On June 11, 1978, then President Ferdinand Marcos signed Presidential Decree 1602, series 1978 Prescribing Stiffer Penalties on Illegal Gambling. As the title of the decree suggests, the law was approved to provide stiffer penalties for violations related to illegal gambling. It is believed that harsher penalties can serve as a deterrent for many individuals to stop engaging in illegal gambling activities. In pushing for the law, the government hopes to address illegal gambling activities that drain its resources.

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What the Decree Covers

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Presidential Decree is a relatively short document that spells out the penalties and the different forms of games and activities categorized as illegal gambling. Section 1 explains the penalties that can be expected with Section 1 (a.1) detailing the specific forms of gambling covered by the law. Violations as indicated in this law come with monetary fines that are imposed on the violators. Violators will be fined one thousand to six thousand pesos or in case of recidivism, the fines range from five thousand to ten thousand pesos. As indicated in this section, the following games are considered ‘illegal’ in the country:

  • Cockfighting
  • Jueteng
  • Jai Alai game-fixing
  • Game fixing
  • Bingo and other forms of lotteries,
  • Cara y Cruz
  • Black Jack
  • Lucky Nine
  • Poker and its derivatives
  • Baccarat
  • Monte
  • Slot machines
  • Mahjong
  • Domino
  • Other games using plastic tiles, with mechanical contraptions, and many forms of races

PD 1602 laid down the different types of games and activities that are considered illegal forms of gambling. The last sentence of this section of the decree attempts to expand the list by including “or any other game scheme, whether upon chance or skill, wherein wagers consisting of money, articles of value or representative of value are at stake or made” (Section 1, a.1).

How Does this Decree Affect Casino Gambling?

The law only targets illegal gambling activities that are operated beyond the scope of regulations. The also amended several criminal provisions like the Articles 195-199 of the Revised Penal Code, RA 3063, PD 449, PD 483, PD 510, and PD 1306. Yes, the law presents the penalties for illegal gambling involvement. But when taken in a larger context, the law helps protect the legitimate operators involved in legal and approved casino gambling.

How Does this Presidential Decree Affect Online Casinos?

This law was passed even before online casinos were introduced to the general public. In short, this was not drafted to affect online casinos and its players. There were no specific language or words that directly affect online gambling. Some will say that the ‘vessel’ indicated in the law may be used in place of ‘internet’, but this argument has never been made in court. Also, players should not worry when playing at an offshore licensed online casino provided that it accepts players from the country. This is the safest option for players who want to enjoy online casino games.

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PD 1602- Looking Ahead

The passage of the law Presidential Decree-  helps clarify the rules and punishment of illegal gambling activities. With harsher penalties in place, it is believed that players will no longer get involved in these games. Indeed, it helped police the industry with many players skipping illegal activities. Instead, many players considered services of legal and fully licensed casinos and gaming platforms.

The passage of these laws is important not just for the operators but for players and enthusiasts as well. With these laws, players can be guided appropriately on what games to play and where to get these services. Also, players can avoid penalties and fines if they are aware of the law. More importantly, knowing and understanding these laws can help the government in creating a fair and responsible gambling environment. When players follow the law, they share in the responsibility of promoting a fair and responsible environment for gambling.


📖 What is Presidential Decree 1602?

Presidential Decree No. 1602 is a law developed to simplify and provide more severe penalties for illegal gambling activities. The law was passed by the Philippine government in 1978.

⚖️ Is online gambling illegal in the Philipines?

No. There is no law stating that online gambling is illegal. However, you have to play in licensed online casinos.

👮 Can you go to jail if you play in a legal online casino?

No. You can not go to jail if you play in a licensed online casino.