The President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, had a change of heart regarding gambling, and now, after years of opposing it, he said he backs the industry after citing the need to raise money to deal with the losses associated with the coronavirus pandemic.
According to a transcript released by the President’s office earlier this week, Mr. Duterte encouraged local people to gamble, saying that the country needed the money and the smartest thing to do is to support gambling activities.
President Duterte explained that casinos and online gambling operators that are aimed at attracting mostly Chinese customers should be required to pay the correct taxes they owe to the authorities. Several years ago, in 2018, he ordered a review of a lease contract for one casino project, and in 2019, he ceased the operation of lotteries run by the Philippine Government’s sweepstakes office.
Following the announcement of President Duterte’s change of heart, gambling stocks rose on July 8th. According to reports, the owner of the Solaire Resort & Casino, Bloomberry Resorts Corp., saw its shared rise by 6.5%. The share value of the casino company Leisure & Resorts World Corp. increased by 5.7%, while the ones of the online gambling operator PhilWeb Corp. rose by 7.5%.
Duterte Encourages Local Residents to Gamble After Years of Being Gambling Industry’s Critic
The President has been an outspoken critic of gambling for years and his turnaround is coming at the perfect time, as the country needs to raise much-needed cash to compensate for at least some of the losses generated during the coronavirus pandemic. The Philippines, where around 109 million people leave, has reported 25,000 deaths as a direct result of Covid-19 and has experienced multiple lockdowns associated with the pandemic. The country has recently helped to push the deficit in its annual budget by around 272% year on year to about $6.4 billion.
As mentioned above, President Duterte used his official statement late on Wednesday night not only to reveal his change of opinion but also to share that online gambling companies that mainly serve Chinese gamblers should be obliged to pay the correct amount of tax. It seems that, currently, Mr. Duterte sees gambling as a necessary source of funds that would help the country deal with the negative consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. He further noted that some critics of the services but they would have to deal with that because the country needs some money.
The lack of government funding during the country’s battle against spreading coronavirus pandemic has forced President Duterte to embrace the idea of supporting the gambling industry. He admitted that the country is running out of money, as the Government had already used up all of its reserved funds to cease the further spreading of the virus.
Previously, the Philippines’ gambling regulatory body – PAGCOR – which is obliged to contribute a considerable part of its profits to the Government, revealed that its income from gambling services in the first quarter of 2021 fell by almost 50% to PHP8.36 billion.