Penalties for Illegal Gambling-Filipinos are known for their passion for sports, entertainment, and gambling. This is seen in the diversity of games and different forms of gambling that can be found in different parts of the country. Locals are known to bet on horses, basketball games, the outcome of elections, and cockfighting. This is on top of the traditional card games which have dominated the country for decades. And this passion for gambling and betting has resulted in the development of unregulated number games like Jueteng. For years, this numbers game dominated the towns and cities. Jueteng is easy to play, bets start at Php 1.00, and there are friendly neighborhood collectors. However, this game is illegal and was prone to abuse. And for the longest time, the government has become powerless when it comes to addressing the issue. All these changed with the passage of Republic Act 9287, Act to Increase Penalties Against Illegal Numbers Games.
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Passed during the Fourteenth Congress of the Republic of the Philippines, the law addresses the calls of different stakeholders to tighten the rules and policies on illegal number game, particularly Jueteng. Before the passage of the Act, the gambling laws in the country is described as ‘friendly and loose’. The laws then allowed for varied interpretations, thus giving creative individuals with a window to take part in different forms of illegal gambling. But with the signing of the law on April 19, 2004, an Act is now in place that clearly defines illegal gambling and spells out the stiffer penalties for offenders.
What the Act Provides
The Act addressed the gaps in Presidential Decree No. 1602 which focused on ‘video Karera (racing) games’ only. Since the PD only focused on this type of gambling, many enterprising individuals simply jumped into other forms of gambling like the numbers game. To address this use of ‘loose wording’, the Act replaced numbers game with ‘any other illegal gambling activities that are devised to elude prosecution’. Specifically, this law does not just cover stiffer penalties for offenders. The law also goes after popular forms of gambling in the country like Last Two and Jueteng. This Act also amended some of the provisions in the PD 1602 particularly in the implementation of the law. Upon the signing of the law, the governors and mayors of the country were deputized as members of the National Police Commission. The local officials were given enhanced powers to help weed out illegal gambling.
How the Act Affects Online Casino Gambling
This Act has no direct implication on licensed and legal casinos that are operating in the country. As long as the games and operations are legal, players have no reasons to worry. However, when players participate in games and platforms that are not authorized and licensed, then they will receive stiffer sanctions as stated in the law. In a way, the new law also protects the government-run lottery called the Small Town Lottery (STL) that is operated by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes.
The law does not affect licensed offshore online casinos. The wording of the law is clear: the rules will only cover domestic gambling operations and individuals that maintain and operate illegal gambling activities. Online casino operators that are licensed in popular jurisdictions like Malta, Gibraltar, and the United Kingdom are not covered by the penalties. Since these operators are licensed, it means that they comply with fair gaming practices and they subscribe to regional regulatory requirements. With the law in place, you can still bet on sports or play popular casino games provided these are licensed offshore and accepts players from the Philippines.
What the Law Means to the Gaming Community:
With the passage of this Act, the gaming community and various stakeholders are now properly guided on what’s allowed. It also creates harsher penalties which serve as a deterrent for those who are planning to take part in illegal gambling. The implementation of the law made the jobs of PAGCOR and AMLC easier. More importantly, the tightening in rules and penalties help reduce the incidence of illegal gambling in the country