A surprising policy concession has been issued from hardline Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte.
Despite having already taken strong measures to eradicate gambling since taking office, the new President now says he's willing to allow a resumption of online gambling on certain conditions.
This is a rather stunning reversal, after Duterte added online gambling to his infamous hit list of vices and blocked further renewals of gambling licenses for Philippine gaming cafes.
Now Duterte has backpedalled to the position that he is willing to restore online gambling “provided taxes are correctly collected and they are situated or placed in districts where gambling is allowed, which means to say, not within the church distance or schools."
Earlier this same month, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp refused to renew the exclusive license of Philweb Corp, an operator offering e-bingo and e-games across 800 terminals distributed across 300 bars and cafes across the country.
Last year the company’s operations contributed around $12.2 million in taxes to the government. Overall, the country stands to lose about 10 billion pesos ($215 million) in annual revenues from the shut-down of licensing of e-bingo and e-games outlets.
Duterte explained the softening of his stance as a passing agitation: "I was mad because even the youth are gambling and there was no way of collecting the proper taxes."
This new stance clears the way for new online gambling revenue streams in the form of a revamped system that the Philippines government gambling operator-regulator PAGCOR is preparing to offer. PAGCOR has announced preparations to license online gambling firms that targeted “non-locals” and that it was in the process of “readying application forms.”
Of the machinations, the politician who has publicly supported death squads to eradicate crime now says: "Pay the correct taxes...Gamble until you die. I do not really care."
Clearly, Duterte has shifted his stance, if not his message.