The History of Live Online Casino Games in the Philippines
The Philippines is a south-east Asian archipelago consisting of an estimated 7,107 islands that are best known for its white, sandy beaches, diverse range of wildlife and world-famous hospitality. You might not know that this cluster of islands is fast becoming one of the region’s most popular destinations for gambling and is home to a growing number of online casinos.
The Philippines is the only country in Asia that provides licences to online casinos. However, the online casinos and live online casino games must operate from within the borders of the country as part of this licencing agreement.
The Gambling Industry in the Philippines
The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) was established in 1976 and has since its inception been responsible for licencing and monitoring the country’s various gambling operations.
Before the idea of live online casino games even existed in the Philippines, came the country’s first brick and mortar casino. The first casino in the Philippines was a floating casino boat that operated in Manila Bay. Run by PAGCOR, it opened its doors to excited patrons in 1977 but closed just two short years later after it burnt down. After the short-lived success of the Philippines’ first casino, PAGCOR focussed its attention on setting up land-based casinos. Today PAGCOR runs 13 land-based casinos, 8 VIP slot machine clubs and 3 slot machine arcades across the Philippines. 50% of the revenue it generates goes directly to the national treasury.
The only land-based and online casinos that PAGCOR does not have any jurisdiction over are those based in the tourist-friendly, Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport, which is situated in the most north-eastern reaches of the Philippines. The Cagayan Economic Zone Authority or CEZA as it is commonly referred to, is the only regulatory body in the region that can legitimately issue licences to online casinos in order for them to legally offer live online casino games to their clients.
Freeport & the Cagayan Special Economic Zone
Online and land-based casinos have been allowed to operate in the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport since 1995, although they function under a special set of rules. Up until a few years ago, only foreigners were exclusively allowed to play at these casinos, however, the rules have since been relaxed with Filipino hotel guests now allowed to play.
Many of the online casinos that offer a wide range of live online casino games are licenced and based in Freeport, Cagayan. These casinos focus their efforts on the greater Asian market, as laws prohibit local Filipino players from registering on an online casino that operates within the Philippines.
If you’re a Filipino player who is keen on accessing live online casino games, not all hope is lost. The Court of Appeal decision of 2012 ruled that it is not illegal for Filipinos to play online in foreign online casinos.
Online Casinos for Filipinos
Although up until recently Filipinos in both the Cagayan and PAGCOR-controlled regions were not allowed to access live online casino games based in the Philippines, there have been attempts at setting up online casinos exclusively for indigenous Filipinos.
PAGCOR offers domestic players access to online casinos and live online casino games exclusively through internet casino game parlours or e-Game cafés, commonly known as PEGS. Filipinos visiting these parlours can play a selection of live online casino games including online slots and video poker.