Casinos in Philippines
The first casino in the Philippines was actually a floating casino in Manila Bay. It was run by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR). The casino boat opened in 1977, but it burned down two years later. PAGCOR then moved to set up land-based casinos, and in 1983 they were granted a monopoly over nearly all forms of gambling in the country. Today PAGCOR runs 13 large-scale casinos, plus 8 VIP slot machine clubs and 3 slot machine arcades.
PAGCOR has been developing a large entertainment resort project since 2007 and its first stage, the Solaire Resort & Casino is set to open in March 2013.
There are casinos in the Philippines not run by PAGCOR. These are found in the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport on the northeastern tip of the country. Special rules apply there. Casinos have been allowed there since 1995, but only foreigners were allowed to play at them. The rules have since been relaxed to cover Filipino hotel guests as well, but not the local population. Until about 2009 the Cagayan regulations applied only to online casinos.
While there are only two large casinos today, the main town of Port Irene is home to more than 500 small gambling halls filled with electronic games. The area caters to tourists from Taiwan, Hong Kong, mainland China and other nearby regions.
Online Casinos in Philippines
Both PAGCOR and the Cagayan Freeport offer online casinos in the Philippines, but PAGCOR does it exclusively through Internet casino game parlors. An effort in 2010 to create a web-based domestic online casino by exclusive license holder Philweb fizzled out almost immediately. Domestic players attending these parlors (PEGS) can play a variety of games, including video poker and slots.
The Cagayan Freeport online casinos are not allowed to take bets from the Philippines. There are over 70 operators registered out of the Cagayan Freeport today, and more licenses are granted every year.
Rumors have been circulating since 2012 that PAGCOR will also start issuing online casino licenses to a wide range of applicants, but the decision and the actual practice is something for the future.