Duterte sets sights on illegal online gambling operations

President Rodrigo Duterte has vowed to close all online gambling operations in the Philippines, saying they have no positive effects on the economy, local media reports.

“I am ordering the closure of all online gaming. All of it. It has no use,” Duterte said while announcing the 2017 budget.

The Philippines does not benefit from online gaming outlets, he added.

He gave no further details on the ban or its scope.

According to the Inquirer, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said he was recently ordered to look into online gambling firms.

Malacañang is drafting the order to define the scope of his authority to investigate online gambling, Aguirre told reporters.

The closure of the firms would be based on the results of the online gambling probe.

In his speech, Duterte said his new directive was related to the recent scandal involving gambling tycoon Jack Lam, who owns the Fontana Leisure Parks and Casino in Clark, Pampanga where 1,316 undocumented Chinese workers were apprehended by Bureau of Immigration operatives in November.

However, the online gambling ban will not have any affect on PAGCOR’s POGO licensed operators, according to PAGCOR’s Andrea Domingo, quoted by Calvin Ayre.

Domingo said the government would be issuing further details on Duterte’s desire to stamp out unauthorized online gambling, and confirmed that only operators that have received PAGCOR’s blessing would be allowed to continue providing online gambling services.