The Philippines are a nation comprised of a cluster of islands located in Southeast Asia. The country has a long history with gambling, even dating back to before the Spanish occupation. In fact, references to the locals betting on cockfighting were mentioned in Antonio Pigafetta’s writings from his voyage with Magellan in 1521.
Today, the island nation is Macau’s biggest competitor for gaming tourism in the region. There are currently 33 cities in the Philippines with gaming available, offering 67 gambling establishments, three horse tracks, and a handful of bingo halls.
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The gambling industry in the Philippines is particularly unique for how it’s divided into two separate geographical regions with different laws and regulations. In the areas operated by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), the state-owned company has a monopoly on land-based casinos, which are freely available to Filipinos; however, locals must use offshore options online.
The other marketplace can be found in the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport. In this region, there are privately-owned casinos that are only accessible by tourists, as well as online gambling sites operating in the region that Filipino citizens are prohibited from using as well. We’ll examine the details soon, but first, we need to cover some topics related to the use of offshore Philippine gambling websites.
Qualities That All of Our Recommended Gambling Sites Share
Our first concern when finding gambling sites in the Philippines (or anywhere else) for our readers is the safety and legitimacy of the site. While offshore operators often offer the broadest range of games and wagers, have the best prices, and give the best bonuses, they are also impossible to hold accountable when you fall for a scam. Our primary mission is to ensure none of our readers are ever victimized by these unethical websites so that they can just enjoy winning.
Positive History and Reputation
Our team also spends a great deal of time researching the corporations and entrepreneurs who own the domains we review. We verify that there are no connections to any known scammers and that they hold licenses from an actively regulated jurisdiction.
The team also takes time to study customer reviews, complaints, and various industry blacklists to ensure our recommendations have a positive history of serving satisfied customers.
Friendly to Winners
Some websites may not outright disappear with your money, but they’ll certainly use shady practices to keep it! We’ve noticed a trend of some gaming providers growing angered by winning wagers and using unfounded accusations of being a professional or benefiting from a “software glitch” as an excuse to cancel winning bets. It’s hard enough to turn a profit gambling without the site admins cheating you out of your deserved earnings. That sort of behavior disqualifies a domain from our recommendations.
Our experts prefer websites that can cater to the majority of our readers. This means being flexible and providing lots of options when it comes to casino games, slots, sports wagers, and even banking methods. Sometimes a gambling site that specializes in a specific payment method or type of game is deserving of a high ranking on our list of recommendations, but more often than not, variety is highly valued.
Fast payout timelines are one of the most critical metrics you can study. Filipino gambling sites with quick responses to withdrawal requests show that they’re well-staffed, organized, have the money on-hand, and are honest. Other operators have been known to purposely delay payouts, hoping that their players will lose their patience and gamble the money rather than waiting for it. It’s your cash; you should be able to retrieve it whenever you need, without getting the runaround.
In our increasingly connected world, people are using smartphones and mobile devices to interface with the internet more often than computers. Plus, one of the fundamental advantages online gambling has over traditional brick-and-mortar locations is the convenience factor. Nothing is more convenient than being able to whip out your phone and place a quick bet while you’re bored or waiting in line somewhere. The websites with greater compatibility with mobile browsers – or which have their own apps – provide a better customer experience and are ranked higher in our recommendations as a result.
Is Gambling Legal in the Philippines?
Yes, gambling is legal and regulated in the Philippines, although with some moderately convoluted rules in a few cases. In most of the country, the state-owned PAGCOR dominates the gaming industry. They own a monopoly over all land-based operations available to the local citizens, whether it’s a casino, sportsbook, or horse track.
The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation also has extensive responsibilities in both of the country’s betting regions. Their 11,000 employees are responsible for operating their own casinos and slot clubs, plus licensing and continually supervising all domestic operations, including the privately-owned properties in the Cagayan Freeport, over 180 bingo halls, e-games cafes, and more.
Citizens of the Philippines are only permitted inside casinos owned by PAGCOR. They do not have access to the resort properties located within the Cagayan Freeport region. Tourists, on the other hand, are allowed to enjoy casino games in either area. You can find all of the classic games in Filipino venues, such as blackjack, roulette, poker, and slot machines.
Lotteries are one of the rare forms of gambling that’s not operated by PAGCOR. They’re held by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, and there are several different variations available. However, no matter which lotto you choose (Lotto 6/42, Megalotto 6/45, Superlotto 6/49, etc.), there are always six numbers drawn. Whoever owns the card with the matching winning numbers wins the jackpot – though some pay lesser prizes for only getting a portion of the values correct.
Horse racing has been a part of Philippine culture since 1867 when it began as a recreational activity. Residents and tourists alike may bet on the equine runners at the racetrack betting window on-site or in off-track betting shops and e-game terminals.
Instead of PAGCOR, the horse racing market is regulated by the Philippine Racing Commission and kept separate from other forms of sports betting as well as other animal-based forms of wagering.
Where the gambling industry in the Philippines dramatically sets itself apart from jurisdictions everywhere else in the world is their sanctioning of several “blood sports.” These are defined as events in which animals engage in combat until one combatant dies or is unable to continue.
Of the few legal variations of blood sports, cockfighting is the favorite.
Cockfighting has been part of the culture of the Philippines since at least the 1500s. In this “sport,” two specially bred gamecocks are placed inside a cockfighting arena after the spectators bet on which side they believe will win.
The birds then slash at each other with razors affixed to their legs for a maximum of ten minutes or until one of them wins and the other dies or is too wounded to continue.
The winner is then treated for its wounds and given medicine, bettors with action on the triumphant rooster are paid out, and the loser is usually eaten by the victorious owner.
If fighting chickens wasn’t “out there” enough for your taste, there are also provincial blood sports that get a bit weirder. Between September and January – during the rainy season – children spend countless hours hunting for wild spiders that they believe will be the best wrestlers.
Fights can be set up anywhere, as this is an extremely low-overhead sport. Spectators make their picks and agree on stakes, and then a third party is usually asked to hold the money or valuables until the contest is decided. The spiders are then placed into a small container together, where they fight to the death.
Despite having been banned in 1998, horse fights are still held in some Southern provinces like T’boli. These battles are included as part of the yearly Seslong Festival – a celebration of local culture – and involve a fight to the death between two stallions competing over a mare in heat.
While these events have technically been outlawed, the fights attract hundreds of villagers without any interference from local law enforcement. Similar to the roosters and spiders, spectators bet with each other over which side will win; no licensed sportsbook allows for this kind of bloody wager.
The rules for online gambling in the Philippines can get a little tricky. Citizens of the islands are not allowed to place bets over the internet from their homes legally. Instead, they must go to a licensed e-game station, where they’re able to play casino games or place sports bets. They may also use offshore gambling sites that are permitted in foreign jurisdictions.
Tourists have access to gaming websites hosted in Cagayan, but the locals are prohibited from using the same domains. Visitors are allowed to utilize e-game hubs in the PAGCOR regions and offshore gambling locations as well.
How Does the Philippines Regulate Gambling?
Presidential Decree No.1067-a (1975)
This bill created the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and defined legal gambling in the Philippines.
Presidential Decree No. 1602 (1978)
This created more severe penalties for unlawful gambling activities. More specifically, it lays out the punishments for gambling on a wide variety of sports without the proper license.
Presidential Decree No. 1869 (1983)
This decree outlines how the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) will regulate the country’s gambling industry, including how to license and regulate games of chance.
Republic Act 7922 (1994)
This Act established the Cagayan Valley as a special economic zone.
Republic Act 9287 (2004)
The Republic Act of 2004 increased the penalties for illegal numbers games.
Executive Order No. 13 (2017)
This defined illegal gambling as “any activity not authorized by an operator’s licensing authority,” outlined further provisions to fight illegal numbers games while supporting state-owned lotteries, and reinforced the ban on local gamblers from the licensed online gambling sites in the Philippines.
Republic Act 10927 (2017)
Implemented on behalf of the Philippine Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), this act is a series of policies, such as keeping player records for five years, forcing players to share more personal information before gambling, and ordering casinos to allow compliance checks from the AMLC.
It’s generally used to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.
The Philippines’s History with Gambling
Frequently Asked Questions
Is gambling legal in the Philippines?
Yes. There are numerous land-based providers in the country, as well as licensed online options, and it’s legal for citizens to access and bet on offshore Philippine gambling sites.
Is it illegal to use a gambling website outside of Philippines’s borders?
No, in 2012 the Filipino Court of Appeals ruled that local residents could lawfully access offshore casinos and gambling sites over the web.
Are gambling winnings taxed in the Philippines?
Yes; there’s a 20% tax on winnings earned from games of chance that’s withheld by the gaming operator at the time of payment to the player.
Prizes valued at 10,000 Philippine Pesos or less (roughly $191 US) are included as a standard income tax with rates ranging between 5% and 32%.
Who licenses the regulated and legal online gambling sites in the Philippines?
The central regulatory authority is the Philippines Amusement and Gaming Corporations. They license the legal online gambling sites for locals, who may only access them through e-gaming terminals.