Gambling in Philippines: History of Filipino Casinos, Legislation and Gambling Scene

Content Team 2 years ago
Gambling in Philippines: History of Filipino Casinos, Legislation and Gambling Scene

Gambling in the Philippines has been around for centuries in this archipelago and today aspires to become a gambling center in Asia. Foreign investments are currently flooding the capital’s Filipino hotel and casino industry, and Manila is becoming a real gem for gamblers. If you are among those who want to place bets in the Philippines, this article will answer your questions so read on to find out!

The Beginning of Philippines’ Casinos: Brief History

The first legal casino in the Philippines opened in 1977 in Manila Bay on a three-deck ship, but it burned down just two years later. However, this hasn’t stopped the Philippines’ authorities from making Metro Manila one of the world’s most well-known gambling destinations. It’s not surprising that the first casino opened in Metro Manila. It is likely the most developed part of the country because it is a hub for many industries such as education, media, finance, and technology.

Players from all over the world can now visit and enjoy around twenty land-based casinos in Metro Manila. All Philippines casinos are located in luxury hotels and resorts, providing visitors with a complete, one-of-a-kind experience. Of course, you can find hundreds of casino games, ranging from traditional favorites like roulette and blackjack to various modern slot machines. 

There are currently 13 casinos in the Philippines, mostly located in Manila Bay, Malate, Cebu, and Angeles. 

The Legality of Filipino Gambling Scene: The History of Legislation

The Filipino gambling scene has a long history because it has been legal since the sixteenth century. Although there are no exact records of when gambling was first practiced, the Chinese may have introduced some forms in the late sixteenth century. Because of the two countries’ proximity, many local Chinese would travel to the Philippines for business, engaging in various trades and activities. For example, back in 1521, when Magellan’s ship arrived in Palawan, betting on cockfights was mentioned.

Throughout history, there was a problem with locals gambling at huge stakes, so the authorities tried to limit gambling in the country, first by the Spanish conquerors and then by the Americans. But in the end, authorities couldn’t control gambling, and it was better to increase the state budget from it than to prohibit it. So today, gambling in the Philippines has become a national phenomenon and is an attractive place for gamers worldwide.

Gambling Laws and Licensing Jurisdiction in the Philippines

Gambling in the Philippines occurs mainly under the monopoly of Philippine Entertainment and Gambling Corporation (PAGCOR), founded in 1976. This body is 100% state-owned. PAGCOR is responsible for licensing gambling operations in the country, with 50% of revenue going directly to the national budget. The only area not under the control of PAGCOR is the special economic zone of Cagayan and Freeport, which have private casinos that are only accessible to tourists.

Although gambling is popular and supported by the state, the government has taken a much stricter stance regarding online gambling in the Philippines.

There are only minor differences in the law on physical gambling between the Philippines and the Cagayan region, but their approaches to online gambling are different. In Cagayan, online gambling websites are open only to foreign players, while Filipinos are prohibited from using those domains in most parts of the country. 

The Most Popular Types of Gambling in Philippines

Here are the four most popular casino games in the Philippines.

Slots, Table Games and Other Casino Essentials

Philippines casinos and sportsbooks are places where you can engage in legal gambling activities, usually for entertainment and to make money. Casino gambling typically involves cards, chips, slot machines, and other popular gaming devices. 


Lotteries are one of the rare forms of gambling over which PAGCOR has no control. Instead, the Philippine Charitable Office (PCSO) runs them for sweepstakes, and several variations are available. Sweepstakes games are contests in which the winner receives the entire prize pool. 

There are different types of lottery, including Lotto 6/42, Megalotto 6/45, Superlotto 6/49, and others, but no matter what you choose, six numbers are always drawn. The person whose chosen lottery numbers match those drawn by the host wins the jackpot prize, but the amount won depends on the type of lottery and how many of the selected numbers in the card match the numbers drawn.

Betting on Horse Races

Horse racing in the Philippines is another popular betting option. You can bet on multiple horses to increase your chances of winning and choose from various horse race betting options. Double Quinella, Forecast, Trifecta, Quartet, Daily Double, Pick 4, and Pick 6 are some types of betting on horse races.


Cockfighting (Sabong) is a sport in which two cocks that have been carefully bred and specially fed wrestle each other inside cockpit arenas, and spectators bet on which cock will win. 

Most arenas have a maximum fighting time of 10 minutes. The victorious cock receives treatment and medicine after the fight and is given up to a 5-month break before fighting again. In contrast, the losing cock, which is usually dead, is traditionally consumed as a prize by the winning owner of the cock or by other people.

Responsible Gambling and Banking Options in Filipino Casinos

PAGCOR expects the gambling services to be provided responsibly by its licensees. Accordingly, PAGCOR has ordered casinos and sportsbooks to adhere to guidelines on responsible gambling to prevent addiction at online gambling in Philippines.

One of the measures ordered by PAGCOR is management and staff training. All casinos should conduct training programs, courses, and seminars on problem gambling for their employees. Management and staff are taught how to spot a problematic player, what to do when confronted, and how to answer questions related to responsible gaming.  

PAGCOR has also established a national database of people banned from gambling facilities. This database is available online to authorized representatives of gambling operators.

 Filipino casinos banking options

The payment methods are pretty standard:

  • Debit cards and credit cards: When using credit and debit cards, the minimum deposit limits are usually lower, and the most commonly accepted brands are Visa, MasterCard, and American Express.
  • Electronic wallets: If you want a more anonymous online gambling experience, digital wallets are an ideal banking method as they do not require you to enter any personal information. Available e-wallets are Skrill and Neteller.
  • Prepaid cards: When making your gambling deposits, you can put money on a prepaid card and use it as a debit card. This method is helpful because it allows players to gamble only with what is on the card, while credit cards allow unlimited play.
  • Transfer by wire: Bank transfers are useful if you want to deposit without attaching personal bank details. You only need to enter your bank details if you are withdrawing money. However, electronic transfers are limited, and they have one of the most extended processing times and require high fees per transaction.
  • Cryptocurrencies: Cryptocurrencies have the fastest processing time and no additional transaction fees. There are even bonuses exclusive to cryptocurrency users, and crypto is also the only way to claim guaranteed payouts the same day you win

In conclusion, there are benefits for tourists and you can enjoy betting on games that don’t traditionally exist in the casino, brick-and-mortar or online. If you are passionate about gambling, check a list of the upcoming iGaming events in America and book your ticket on time!

Gambling in Philippines FAQs

Is Sabong offered in Philippine casinos?

No. Sabong (cockfighting) is legal in the Philippines, but there are places designated for this activity. Casinos do not have a Sabong section, and you cannot bet on them.

Are there other “blood sports” in the Philippines? 

The Philippines has laxer sports betting laws than many other countries, making it an attractive location for sports betting operators to establish their headquarters.

Why are there so many sportsbooks in the Philippines?

The Philippines has laxer sports betting laws than many other countries, making it an attractive location for sports betting operators to establish their headquarters.

How does currency exchange work with Filipino sportsbooks?

Most online bookmakers offer deposits and payouts in various currencies, including the euro, the British pound, the US dollar, and other major international currencies. If you deposit and withdraw via Bitcoin, it will automatically be converted into the currency of your choice when withdrawing from your electronic wallet.

How do taxes work with PAGCOR casinos?

PAGCOR has a 5% franchise tax, and 50% of the total online gambling in Philippines profits go to the national government. The government then sends those funds to strengthen infrastructure projects. 

Are gambling profits taxed in the Philippines?

Yes, there is a 20% tax on winnings earned from games of chance that the game operator automatically withholds when paying the player. In addition, winnings of less than 10,000 Philippine pesos (approximately $ 190) are included as standard income tax, ranging from 5% to 32%.

Is it legal to use a gambling website outside the Philippines?

Yes. In 2012, the Philippine Court judged that locals could legally access offshore casinos and online gambling websites.

How old must you be to place bets in the Philippines?

Under Philippine law, the minimum age to enter a casino is 21.

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