Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has announced his intention to shut down his country’s entire online gambling industry. It’s an unprecedented move that would cost the Philippines hundreds of millions of dollars in lost tax revenue.

Duterte made his unexpected announcement while giving an unrelated speech at the ceremonial signing of his country’s 2017 budget. “I am ordering the closure of all online gaming. All of them. They have no use,” he said, according to report in the International Business Times.

While this isn’t the first time Duterte has attacked the online gambling industry, it is the first time he’s threatened to shut it down entirely.

Though the President’s comments were short on details, he did go on to say that, “It’s online in the Philippines; but the betting outside, we have no mechanism against it.” Duterte was apparently referring to offshore-facing gambling sites, like the one run by Asian gambling magnate, and fugitive from Philippine justice, Jack Lam.

Lam is accused not only of running an unlicensed gambling operation, he’s also accused of attempting to bribe Philippine government officials. That is the more likely explanation behind Duterte’s surprise announcement. The President is known to have been, “pissed off,” by Lam’s alleged actions.

Banning online gambling outright because one very powerful man is mad at another very powerful man could wind up being the ultimate example of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. After all, the country’s online gambling industry generates more than $200 million in annual tax revenues.

So far, Duterte hasn’t introduced any formal measures, directives, or time frame to back up his desire to shut down online gambling in his country.

 


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