In the Philippines, those who stubbornly engage in illegal gambling face penalties. Despite the misconception that the government looks the other way, the reality is quite the opposite.
What happens if you get involved in illegal gambling in the Philippines? Is gambling outright banned in the country? These are the questions we’ll tackle in today’s blog. But first, let’s delve into…
Understanding Illegal Gambling
The definition of illegal gambling varies based on a country’s laws. Despite various regulations, it ultimately revolves around games deemed prohibited.
Gambling isn’t entirely illegal in the Philippines since PAGCOR-authorized online casinos like OKBet exist. Still, certain services or products can lead to penalties for players, operators, or platforms caught participating in or offering such games.
In the eyes of the Philippine Constitution, illegal gambling refers to any form not authorized by the government’s gaming overseer, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR). Various laws, such as Republic Act (R.A) 9287, denounce illegal number games and serve as the country’s law against illicit online gambling.
R.A. 9287 amended former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s Presidential Decree No. 1602. It imposes stricter punishments for those involved in:
Jueteng and Masiao
Unregulated number games that involve wagering on specific number combinations.
Last Two and Bookmaking
Placing bets on the last two digits of official lottery results or engaging in unauthorized sports betting.
Unregistered Online Gambling
Participating in any form of online betting without proper licensing and authorization.
Engaging in unlicensed or unauthorized cockfighting events.
To reinforce these laws, the Philippine National Police (PNP) established the Anti-Illegal Gambling Special Operations Task Groups under former President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order No. 13.
The Philippine government is also making life difficult for POGOs (Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators), especially in light of serious crimes, including killings and abductions. Last year, the Senate proposed a nationwide ban on POGOs.
In May 2023, authorities launched Operation High Roller through memorandum circular no. 2017-022 issued by the police. It aims to intensify the PNP’s crackdown on illegal gambling activities in the country.
Results have been promising, with over 40,000 POGO employees deported by 2022. In the second half of 2023, more than 41,000 individuals have been arrested for illegal gambling.
Penalties for Illegal Gambling in the Philippines
Engaging in illegal gambling in the Philippines carries severe consequences beyond financial fines. The government’s commitment to combat unauthorized betting is evident through the following repercussions:
- Bettors: 30 to 90 days
- Employees: 6 to 8 years
- Operators: 10 to 12 years
- Protectors: 16 to 20 years
- Individuals: Varying amounts
- Government employees or officials: Up to 5 million pesos and jail time.
Closure of Establishments
- Law enforcement agencies can shut down unauthorized gambling venues, leading to substantial operator losses. So far, 389 operations have been closed by the PNP.
Confiscation of Assets
- Authorities can seize assets related to illegal gambling, impacting both individuals and businesses.
Taking a Closer Look
Now, let’s take a closer look at the broader implications of the crackdown on illegal gambling in the Philippines. The efforts to curb illicit activities extend beyond arrests and deportation, touching various aspects of the country’s socio-economic landscape.
The Philippine government’s stringent measures are not limited to traditional forms of gambling. With the rise of online platforms, the focus has shifted to regulating Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs). Once a booming industry, these entities faced increased scrutiny due to their association with serious crimes, including cases of violence such as killings and abductions.
In response, the Senate took a bold step last year by proposing a nationwide ban on POGOs. This move addressed the underlying issues and potential negative impact on society. The push for a ban signified a broader commitment to safeguarding public welfare and maintaining law and order.
Operation High Roller, launched in May 2023, marked a significant milestone in the government’s fight against illegal gambling. The operation, outlined in memorandum circular no. 2017-022 demonstrated a strategic effort to intensify the Philippine National Police’s crackdown on illicit gambling activities. The results, with over 41,000 arrests in the latter half of 2023, underscore the effectiveness of these targeted initiatives.
Beyond the numbers, the penalties for illegal gambling in the Philippines extend to imprisonment, fines, closure of establishments, and confiscation of assets. These repercussions aim to deter individuals from engaging in illegal gambling and disrupt the operations of those who facilitate such activities.
The closure of 389 operations by the PNP indicates a tangible impact on the ground. Shutting down unauthorized gambling venues not only reinforces the rule of law but also protects vulnerable individuals from falling prey to the pitfalls of illegal gambling.
Furthermore, the potential confiscation of assets associated with illegal gambling sends a strong message. It serves as a punitive measure and hits where it hurts the most—financially. This multi-faceted approach reflects the seriousness with which the Philippine government addresses the issue, considering both the legal and financial aspects.
In conclusion, the battle against illegal gambling in the Philippines goes beyond arrests and legal proceedings. It encompasses a comprehensive strategy that addresses the root causes and strives to create a safer environment for the public.
While legal operators like OKBet provide a legitimate avenue for gambling enthusiasts, the government’s commitment to eradicating illegal activities remains unwavering. Choosing to gamble within the boundaries of the law becomes not just a matter of compliance but a conscious decision to contribute to a society free from the adverse effects of illicit gambling.