Presidential Decree 1869- It was in 1977 that the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) was established. Since the start of its operations, PAGCOR has proven its worth as one of the most important government-owned and controlled corporations in the country. As one of the top corporations, the company helped raise income for the government. And the income sourced from the corporation was used in several infrastructure projects of the government. From 1977 to December 1982, PAGCOR has grossed more than Php 1.677 billion, with 60 percent of the income going to the government. During the first few years of its operations, the PAGCOR has served its purpose by acting as an income-generating arm of the national government. Appreciating the growing role of PAGCOR, the government decided to enhance and consolidate its operations in 1983 through the Presidential Decree 1869.
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Signed July 11, 1983, PD 1869 aimed to consolidate all the laws and legal instruments that were passed concerning PAGCOR. Before the decree was passed, casinos operate along Dewey Blvd in Manila and other major cities like Davao, Bacolod, and Cebu. During this time, the casinos that operate in these cities operate independently. With the passage of the decree, PAGCOR was given the powers to oversee and regulate the operations of all casinos in the Philippines. In this decree, several PAGCOR laws have been integrated thus creating the PAGCOR charter.
What the Charter Provides-Presidential Decree 1869
The charter specifies the scope of roles and responsibilities of the new PAGCOR. In the declaration of the policy (Section 1), the office is authorized to operate and conduct games of chance including casino operations. Through this Presidential Decree 1869, the corporation is given the operators to establish and operate casinos. And a part of the income that can be generated from the operations of the casinos can be used to fund government projects.
More importantly, the charter also identifies the persons who are allowed to play and enjoy the casino services (Section 14, Other Conditions). Under the charter, tourists and foreigners who are not residents are allowed to play in these casinos. Also, locals may be given the chance to participate in the casino games provided that their gross income for the previous year is at least Php 50,000 and this should be certified by the Bureau of Internal Revenue. Players should be at least 21 years old to participate. The charter also explains and identifies the players who are not allowed to play online. The law is clear when it says that government officials are now allowed to play in casinos and those that are below 21 years of age
Impact of the Presidential degree 1869 on Casino Gambling?
This charter directly impacts the casino operations particularly those who will be allowed to play the casino games. The rules indicate that government employees and officials are not allowed to enter and participate in casino games. Also, the rules are clear that the members of the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police are not allowed to engage in games. The charter adds that individuals who are under 21 years old are not allowed to bet money in casinos. There is also a provision in the charter that explains ‘an exemption’ that allows locals to participate in gambling activities. According to this rule, a resident may be allowed to play if his gross income last year was at least Php 50,000. This ensures that only those who are financially able can play in casinos. If a casino violates this provision, it will be fined Php 100,000 per person. Or worse, the corporation may order the closure of the casino.
Impact of PD 1069 on Online Casino Operations
This decree does not directly impact the online casino industry particularly the ones run by legal offshore operators. The charter intends to come up with just one regulatory agency that will oversee the operations of local gambling operators whether on land or online. With this, it’s obvious that PAGCOR has no authority over offshore licensed online casinos or traditional casinos licensed offshore. This means that players from the Philippines can easily access offshore online casinos with no restrictions. However, those online casinos that are based in the country are still off-limits to local players.
What the PAGCOR Charter Means to the Gambling Industry
The charter identifies the roles of PAGCOR and how it will operate within the Philippine gambling industry. The law also lists down the individuals who are allowed to play the games and those that are not permitted to enter the casinos. For example, employees of the government are not allowed to play casino games. In the Philippines, ‘public office is a public trust’ which means that the law protects the integrity of civil service.