In the Philippines we have over 40 casinos. These are all owned or licensed by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR). We also have hundreds of slot parlors, bingo halls and e-games cafés. Our e-games cafes are similar to internet cafes in foreign countries where you can go to play online games. These cafés also offer online casino games; however, the games can only be played inside the café. This means you can’t play them with at home or at any other location.
All the casinos in the Philippines such as the 4 pictured above are owned or licensed by PAGCOR
For Filipinos looking to play casino games from home or on their mobile phone, it is best to use casinos that are legal and licensed in another country. A small challenge is finding ones with easy methods for deposits and withdrawals. For this I suggest the e-wallet Skrill which functions similar to an online bank account.
First you can open an account at skrill.com. Using this method, you can easily deposit and cash out your winnings in Philippine peso (PHP). When registering, make sure to select bank transfer as your funding source. You will be given a 16-digit PAN # – important – do not lose this number as it is not easy to recover.
The casinos listed below all accept Philippine residents, and offer Skrill deposits. They are all legal and licensed in a foreign country. Their regulators assure the software is audited, and the company is reputable, well financed, and that they pay winners promptly. In short these are the best legitimate options for playing online casino games from the Philippines.
Because each of the above sites have different bonuses and promotions, we recommend that you bookmark this page. This is because it is not always easy to find safe sites who accept Philippine residents who also accept Skrill.
Gambling is of course legal in the Philippines. After income tax, gaming taxes are the second biggest source of income for our government. Nationwide we have casinos, eGames cafés, slot parlours, poker sports clubs, Instawin terminals, Mega Sports World outlets, cock fighting venues and bingo halls.
However, despite widespread legal gambling, the industry is all HEAVILY regulated. The laws that govern gaming companies here are diverse and are enforced in order to protect our national interests.
There is a strong precedent that prevents domestic companies from offering online gambling to locals. This is only allowed in PAGCOR licensed cafés. The foreign sites suggested on this page are legal and licensed in the country in which they operate and therefore are legal under international law. The legality of using them under Philippine law is a gray area.
The primary gambling law for players is Presidential Decree 1602. There was a famous case in 2012 where Associate Justice Amelita Tolentino ruled that internet gambling is not among the list of illegal acts punishable by the current gambling laws. The ruling was “therefore, there is no law that punishes internet gambling or on-line casino”.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) and Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) have opposed this ruling. They have urged lawmakers to amend the laws in such a way that internet gambling is clearly covered. While it is possible this may happen in the future, it seems unlikely for the simple reason that our country is focused on becoming an international casino hub.
Wikipedia Entry: List of Philippine Casinos lists 42 casinos located in the Philippines. PAGCOR owns or licenses each. They are government owned and under the Office of the President of the Philippines.
PAGCOR’s first establishment was a floating casino that opened in 1977. In 1986 the shift was made to land based operations. Today, PAGCOR is massive and oversees dozens of casinos and hundreds of sports betting shops, slots clubs, cock fighting venues, bingo halls, and games cafes. They have more than 11,000 employees and are behind only our Tax and Customs Authority in contribution of revenue.
Although PAGCOR is well established, growth is steady and is only expected to increase. This is first evident by their profits which were P31.46 billion in 2010, P36.65 billion in 2011, and P40.88 billion in 2012. In 2013 the already steady growth should spiked to an unprecedented level. This prediction has a lot to do with our government’s National Tourism Development Plan, which is seeking to increase annual tourism by 10 million. A large part of this plan is a luxury gambling resort in which the first casino has already opened.
His Excellency, Benigno S. Aquino III was the guest of honour at the opening of the giant P48.97 billion ($1.2 billion USD) Solaire Manila Resorts casino in March 2013. This is the first of four huge casinos expected to be built in reclaimed land in Manila Bay in what will be called Entertainment City. The plan is for the Philippines to become a major casino tourist destination that directly competes with Las Vegas and Macau.
Entertainment City hopes to become Asia’s next gambling hot spot by attracting tourists from around the world
To clarify my opinion: it would not produce good synergy for our government to stop players using international gambling sites, while at the same trying to attract tourists from other countries to our casino resorts. There is also the potential for conflict in trade agreements due to the fact there are many licensed online casinos operating in our special economic zone Cagayan Freeport.
PAGCOR is not our country’s only regulator of casinos. The other that locals are less familiar with is First Cagayan Leisure and Resort Corp. (FCLRC). They are a corporation organized by virtue of the laws of the Republic of the Philippines with SEC Registration No. A200005770, and are based in the Cagayan Freeport zone.
In 2006, this Philippine territory opened its first casinos. For the first 5-years only foreigners were allowed to enter. This changed in September 2011, but only on a limited basis. Today, Filipinos who are staying in one of the areas luxury resorts are now considered tourists and can obtain a special pass to enter the casino floors. From here they can play slots, blackjack, baccarat, roulette or other casino games.
What is unique about First Cagayan is that unlike PAGCOR, they are friendly to online gambling. Many of the most reputable online gambling sites, especially Asian bookies, hold a license from this regulator. These include the likes of Bodog88, Mansion88, and Dafa888. These sites however market to players from China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. This is because, while based here, they are restricted by law from offering gambling to Philippine residents. Again, for this, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) hold the monopoly.
In summary how it stands now is there are strict laws against local companies offering online casino games to Philippine residents. We are however friendly to foreign based companies. This is evident by the fact one of the largest casino software providers in the world PlayTech has offices and staff here. It is further evident by the large number of gambling sites servicing other countries that are licensed by First Cagayan.
As far as players are concerned, the 2012 case we mentioned earlier shows precedent that seems to imply it is legal for Filipino locals to use foreign based online gambling sites. While there is some debate about this, our focus on becoming an international gaming hub likely means it’s a safe bet that these laws won’t be changing any time soon.