The President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, has defaulted back to his staunchly anti-online gambling position and declared that he does plan to order all forms of online gambling closed. On Thursday the 22nd of December, he announced during his presentation of the 2017 budget for the country that the Philippines has not been benefitting from online casinos, and so he is deciding to shut down any operations in the country. Duterte specified, “I am ordering the closure of all online gaming (firms). All of them. They have no use.”
Primarily, he cited that the Philippines has no means or ability to regulate the online gambling industry, and that he does not see the value in developing that ability in a conscientious way. Duterte did not specify when or how he plans on going about implementing the ban, which has left many in the industry playing an anxious waiting game that may, or may not eventually result in the disintegration of their livelihood. It is estimated that the Philippines would stand to lose the equivalent of $215 million in annual revenues, primarily fueled by a substantial tourism industry, if the government decides to shut down the operation of e-bingo and e-gambling outlets.
Duterte has flippantly changed his position concerning online gambling since he took office: First, by launching a devastating blow to the country’s former number one company specializing in online gambling cafes. Second, he reverted to a position that was supportive as long as he got a substantial tax income from the online casinos he would deem allowable.
Duterte explained his apparent flip-flopping on the issue by saying, “I was mad because even the youth are gambling and there was no way of collecting the proper taxes, pay the correct taxes… Gamble until you die. I do not really care.”
Unfortunately, the reality of this president not caring if his citizens die is unnervingly irrefutable. President Duterte has issued a vigilante “war on drugs” that has resulted in the killings of approximately 6,000 people, all in a matter of six months.
He has even bragged about killing people himself at a press conference, stating, “Whoever will use this (public funds) for corruption, I will get him (to) ride the helicopter with me going to Manila and will push him out while we we are up in the air,” Duterte said. “Yes I will do that! I did that before and I can do that again.”
He later recanted his boasting in a sociopathic narcissistic fashion, “I am playing you, I am really like that, your team knows I really want to say jokes. When I say for example, when I pray …like what God told me … it is the same. And you spent time writing about it, criticizing, and that is your story, and you believe that.”
The people of the Philippines are left to keep guessing what to believe when it comes to their newly elected President. And though they may soon not be able to gamble online, they will continue to witness Duterte gamble with the stability of their economy and social fabric.