Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte is declaring war on his country’s gambling industry. The newly elected strongman made the issue a point of order in his very first cabinet meeting.
President Duterte, who was elected on a law and order platform, told his cabinet that, “online gambling must stop.”
Unfortunately for Philippines facing operators, Duterte followed up his words actions. As of Friday, he declared, the country would be freezing all current gaming applications for e-bingo parlors and other online gambling sites that are popular in the country.
Even worse, for existing license holders, Duterte said he’ll be asking Philippines gaming regulators at the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor) to rescind all existing online gambling licenses.
Duterte’s announcement was a major surprise to everyone in the Philippine gaming industry, including Pagcor head Andrea Domingo. According to a report from Reuters, a stunned Domingo told reporters she’d not heard anything about rescinding licenses but added:
For now, we will freeze the issuance of licenses for these types of games, and then review what the president said.
Duterte’s reasoning for the attack on online gambling, according Duterte himself, is that too many Filipinos are gambling instead of working. He also added that collecting taxes from online gambling is problematic for government authorities, though this is first time most industry watchers have heard of the issue.
There’s no reason to believe that Duterte won’t follow up on his promises. Duterte is known as a hardliner in nearly every area of public order and has frequently advocated for the killing of common criminals such as drugs dealers.