One Step Back? New Anti-gaming Bill in the Philippines Seeks to Reverse Industry ProgressPublished September 28, 2022 by Lee R
Despite the urgency attached to a Philippines anti-gaming bill, one person cannot necessarily reverse progressing government policy.
The Philippine iGaming market appears to be taking a step backward after the introduction of the latest iGaming legislation.
The ominous news came in the form of Senator Joel Villanueva’s filing of a bill in the Philippine Senate seeking to ban all forms of online gambling in the country across the board.
The Anti-Online Gambling Act bill currently awaits consideration by a legislative committee, which is not prompt enough for the bill’s author, who is applying more pressure.
Prompt Response Requested
In the explanatory note describing the bill, Villanueva added to the urgency of the request by asking for it to be passed “immediately.”
The note called “the consequences of gambling and online gambling…too severe to be ignored.”
Re-introducing the Moral Component
The note further warned that the “cost of gambling is no longer limited to the loss of money, but extends to the loss of values and lives.”
The moral component is also front-loaded into the spirit of the bill:
“This bill seeks to prohibit online gambling and the placing of wagers or bets through the internet or any form of online gambling activities to prevent further deterioration of morals and values, encourage people to work instead of relying on a game of chance, stop addiction and save lives.”
The penalties proposed by the bill include severe treatment of those that bet or knowingly receive wagers online with up to six months in prison or fines ranging from ₱100,000 (£1,520/€1,737/$1,737) to ₱500,000.
Organisational penalties for those offending corporations would be up to five years in prison and ₱500,000 fines to those deemed responsible.
The act would take effect within 15 days of publication in the Philippines’ Official Gazette, or 15 days after being published in at least two newspapers.
Philippines’ Department of the Interior and Local Government and Department of Justice would jointly be in charge of enforcing the act within 30 days of passage.
Reverse of Course?
In a jurisdiction where online gambling was finally introduced last year after many years of anti-gambling political sentiment, this bill flies directly in the face of industry evolution and progress.
Not So Surprising
Nonetheless, this type of opposition in legislation should not be considered a surprise due to the remaining Parliamentary voices opposing iGaming.
Despite the pressure and strong language, this bill remains in the proposal stage, looming more as a backstep whose momentum is not as strong as its language. It is up to the Philippines Parliament to assess the benefits so far of iGaming legislation.