On August 26th, the President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte revealed that he will allow a casino venue to be established in Boracay – an announcement that is set to reverse his previous stance over the matter of gambling in the popular tourist destination.
As explained by Mr. Duterte, the country’s Government needed more funds now, which was the main reason for his change of heart. That is why the President said that he would allow one casino to be established in Boracay, hoping that the new gambling options there would end up attracting more tourists to the destination.
Mr. Duterte shared that the Government is currently short of money, so he would take whatever source of money he had. He further noted that the Philippine Government is going to have a lot of expenses, so they had to somehow find the money they are short of. If that meant making a mistake, he would pay the price for not sticking to his previous order to keep gambling out of Boracay.
In 2018, at the time when the island of Boracay reopened for tourists following some improvements, President Duterte issued an order that the popular tourist destination should be kept casino-free. Although he had previously said that he hated gambling, last year he turned down suggestions to suspend offshore gambling services in the Philippines because the country needed a regular source of funds. Most offshore gambling operations offered across the Philippines currently originate from China and have been criticized for their alleged links to corruption and other crimes.
Duterte Changes Stance on Gambling Amid Ongoing Covid-19-Related Financial Difficulties
As reported by CasinoGamesPro, in July, the once fierce opponent of gambling, President Duterte has changed his opinion on gambling amid financial difficulties that are being faced by the country due to the coronavirus pandemic.
At the time, the President of the Philippines has softened his tone about gambling because of the negative impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the country. As a result, Mr. Duterte said gambling should be encouraged as a strong source of funds that would help the Government address the ongoing health crisis and recover some of the money that the country lost because of the pandemic.
Although his position on gambling may be found controversial by some people, the Philippine President explained that the change was necessary in order to secure more money for the country at a time when the local Government is facing difficulties to fund some projects or initiatives.
As mentioned above, Mr. Duterte had previously said he was against gambling, with him even overturning some new casino developments in Manila and Boracay. In 2018, he canceled a massive $500-million casino project of Galaxy Entertainment Group that would have to be established in Boracay. He also suspended a 50-year land lease agreement that would have facilitated the development of a $1.5-billion integrated resort in the Entertainment City of Manila.
In June 2021, Mr. Duterte called for the Philippine lawmakers to pass a piece of legislation that would require offshore online gambling operators, also known as POGOs, to pay a 5% tax on their gross gaming revenue. The bill would also increase the income tax imposed on employers to 25%.