The history of the gaming business in the Philippines

Home » The history of the gaming business in the Philippines

Gambling in the Philippines is an interesting example of how the gaming industry has become an organized source of revenue for the state. Not only private licensed casinos work, but even government organizations of such a plan.


Until about 1976, the gaming business in Manila was part of the shadow economy. Many private institutions of various specializations worked without official documents, paying taxes, not shying away from other violations of the law. The bulk of them were traditional gaming tables, but there were also unique institutions involved in games that were popular only in the Philippines.

At that time, only rare bingo halls, which were sometimes owned by regional churches, and only one official organization, which was a Jai Alai bookmaker (a popular ball game in the Philippines), legally worked.


President Ferdinand Marco in 1976 launched the formation of PAGCor, the Philippine gaming industry corporation. The organization was created to regulate the gaming business, generate income from its activities and attract tourists.

A year later, the Manila Bay casino began work – it was the first among the controlled PAGCor. Started work on board a tourist liner. Its co-owners are: PAGCor and Manila Bay Enterprises Inc., co-owned by Stanley Ho.

Unfortunately, after two years of operation, a major fire occurred on the three-deck liner, making further casino operation impossible. Following this, it was decided to place the casino exclusively within the country. The next such facility was a casino launched in a hotel called Phillipine Village.

Since 1986, PAGCor has been reorganized and gained new credentials. At the moment, it is one of the largest and most influential state bodies with a staff of more than 11,000 people. PAGCor has its own playgrounds in almost all major cities. She also licenses and supervises the work of private gambling establishments, including bingo halls familiar to the local population, traditional casinos, and even their Internet cafes.

The rules for obtaining a license are quite strict and comply with the interests of the country. For example, to obtain permission for gambling betting, it will be necessary to invest more than a billion USD. In addition, the staff of the new office is 95% obliged to consist of citizens of the Philippines – this can partially solve the problems with employment.

Game Zone in Manila

There are currently 20 casinos in Manila. Most of them are located in Manila Bay, as well as in the vicinity of Parnaca City Airport. The vast majority are subordinate to PAGCor, they can be identified by the brand of the corporation – Casino Filippino. The remaining casinos are private, operated with the permission of PAGCor.

Game varieties

Most of all the local population is interested in jai-alai, horse racing, cockfights. Many bookmakers willingly accept bets on all these types of competitions. Mega Sports World owns the license for such activities; it also has its representative offices in many settlements of the country.

PAGCor also owns Metro Manila, which operates more than a hundred internet cafes with the ability to bet online in gambling. There are several websites involved in this activity, they are run by Big Game, licensed by the same PAGCor.

Of particular interest to the local population and many tourists is online gambling, and, according to experts, it will not disappear soon.

What is the result?

As you can see, the gaming industry in the Philippines is thriving and developing to this day. Despite the fact that in other countries, interest is gradually dying away. Manila gaming tables attract many players from overseas. For example, according to statistics from last year, more than a million tourists from China visited casinos in the Philippines. Many Chinese casinos suffered when the fight against corruption reached the gambling industry, so it is logical to expect that the flow of players from the Middle Kingdom will only increase in this regard.

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