Details of the crackdown
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte gave orders to close down all the gambling kiosk facilities in the country. This closure will continue for as long as it takes to complete a significant corruption investigation.
The probe will cover over 30,000 gambling and lottery kiosks that the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) operates across the country.
Following allegations of corruption against the organization, police locked up kiosks across the nation. The PCSO issued a statement on the matter, saying that their goal was to ensure that the projects and activities of the state were maintained:
The PCSO supports the decision of our dear President in eradicating corruption and illegal gambling activities.”
The closure has left thousands of employees without a source of income. With no definite timeline for reopening these kiosks, it is not known when they will be able to resume work.
The PSCO said they are pushing as hard as possible for the government to remove the temporary closure of these facilities. The Office’s involvement in other areas, such as financial assistance in healthcare, will not be affected by the gambling kiosks shutdown.
Calls for change
In view of these corruption allegations, politicians want the gambling framework in the country to change. Many believe the PSCO should be privatized.
President Duterte has a history of being outspoken against gambling. During his presidency, there have been numerous closures of development projects of mega resort casinos. A moratorium that came into place in January 2018 stopped the gambling regulator PAGCOR from handing out any more resort casino licenses.
Two licenses were approved following this moratorium by PAGCOR, but Duterte prevented these projects from proceeding further. A $1.5bn resort casino that was under construction in Manila was also shut down.
The authorities also observed that many Chinese nationals working in the gambling sector have not been paying their taxes in the Philippines. This led to the implementation of a new tax on foreign casino workers.
PAGCOR has been carrying out a campaign to shut down illegal gambling operations. In only a few years, the number of illegal organizations in the Philippines fell from around 30,000 all the way down to a couple of hundred.
President easing his stance
President Duterte has been easing his stance on gambling as of late. He publicly said he will no longer be targeting gambling, being aware that there is not much more that can be done to contain the activity. Instead, he is appealing to people to not partake in gambling.