Gambling Laws

Discover laws guiding gambling in the Philippines in both physical and online casinos with this quick guide.

There’s nothing as exciting like heading out to a brick-and-mortar casino to experience the thrill of gambling. While it can be a rewarding experience, especially if you win big, visiting a casino when the law prohibits it can have unwanted consequences. So continue reading to discover all the gambling laws in the Philippines and how to play your favorite games. 

This guide covers everything you need to know about gambling online and offline. What is the legal age to gamble online in the Philippines? What are some of the popular online casino games for Filipinos? These are some of the few questions to which you’ll get answers. 

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Evolution of Gambling Legislation in the Philippines

The Philippines’ gambling scene has a rich history, as it has existed since the 16th century. During this time, it has had well-structured laws to control and regulate it. 

Actually, when the first gambling games emerged in the Philippines is unknown. Allegedly, the Chinese were responsible for introducing gambling to Filipinos. Due to their proximity, traders from China to the Philippines introduced different gambling activities, the most notable being cockfighting. Introduced in 1521 by the arrival of Magellan’s ship, cockfighting has become part and parcel of Filipino culture, even adopting a local name, Sabong. 

Filipinos have been betting on Sabong and other activities for centuries, with many going overboard. Many Filipinos would bet all they had and lose huge sums of their income to these activities. This forced authorities – first the Spanish conquerors, then Americans – to try and outlaw the activities to no success. 

Formation of the PAGCOR, PCO and POGOs

After the Americans left the country, the government of the Philippines took over the role of regulating gambling activities. Instead of outlawing the activities, they decided to form bodies that would enforce laws passed by the government. 

This started with the formation of The Philippines Charitable Office – in 1936 – and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) – in 1976. PAGCOR had to oversee all gambling-related activities, while PCO’s role was to regulate sweepstakes/lotteries. 

There are also Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) that cater to players living outside the country. This group of operators specifically targets Chinese players searching to play online casino games

Philippine Online Gambling Laws

Attitude About Gambling in the Philippines

Traditionally, cock fighting has been a popular pastime among Filipinos. The activity bears significant cultural and economic importance to the country. It is so popular that the government introduced the “COCKFIGHTING LAW OF 1974,” which regulates the ownership and operation of cockpits. While some of these cockfights were just for entertainment, some of the owners of the cockpits allowed people to wager on the outcome of the fight. This is how cock fighting became part and parcel of the Filipino gambling niche, generating over 650 million pesos per month for the government in taxes. 

However, it’s not only cock fighting that is popular in the Philippines. On the contrary, many Filipinos visit local and online casinos in search of conventional slots, roulette, blackjack, baccarat, and Sic Bo games. Laws make it legal for Filipinos to gamble at different establishments legally, as long as one has attained 21 years and above. 

Betting on horses is also quite popular in the Philippines. Like local casino games, betting on horse races is legal. Filipinos can visit one of the many race tracks located in the country to back their favorite horse. 

All games of chance outside casino gaming, such as sweepstakes, are also legal in the country. Filipino players can pick from multiple types of lotteries, including Superlotto 6/49, Megalotto 6/45, Lotto 6/42, and many more. As mentioned, these are regulated and controlled by the Philippine Charitable Office (PCSO). 

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Online Gambling in the Philippines

One point worth mentioning is that online gambling in the Philippines is in a somewhat gray area. The only law that explicitly mentions the legality of gambling in the country was passed in 1975, allowing anyone above 21 to gamble at a local casino. Since then, there haven’t been any changes made to accommodate the new form of internet gambling, which only became popular after 2010. This means Filipinos can play at regulated offshore top online casinos without fearing prosecution. However, it is crucial that the online casino you visit be licensed so that you access a safe, secure, and fair gaming experience. 

Conclusion

Overall, in the Philippines gambling laws allow players above 21 years to visit brick-and-mortar casinos and enjoy the different games available. However, the relationship with online gambling is different. There are no laws that explicitly ban Filipinos from visiting online casinos. In other words, players can visit offshore online casinos and have a go at their services. Just ensure you are visiting an online casino licensed and regulated by a renowned body. This is the only way to enjoy safe, secure, and fair online gambling services.

FAQ

The legality of online gambling in the Philippines varies depending on the type of games you are playing. There are laws that allow for the playing of land-based casino games. However, none exists for online gambling, which means you can play casino games without fear of risk.

The legal age to visit land-based casinos is set at 21 years and above. When it comes to online gaming, this figure varies from one casino to another, ranging between 18 - 21 years and above. Read the T&Cs before signing up.

No, you don't have to. Since there are no laws that explicitly guide online gambling in the Philippines, you are not obligated to pay taxes from winnings at an online casino.

Yes, for land-based casino gaming, there is a 20% tax on winnings earned while playing games. The 20% tax is automatically withheld by the casino.

Since online gambling is not regulated in the Philippines, you can play both live dealer games and RNG-based games.

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