MANILA (Reuters) - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Wednesday he’s willing to allow a resumption of online gambling in the Southeast Asian nation if correct taxes are paid and gaming parlor are far from schools and churches.
The new president added online gambling to his hit list of vices, with the gaming regulator opting not to renew expired licenses of gaming cafes to prevent poor Filipinos from betting.
“I will restore online (gambling) provided taxes are correctly collected and they are situated or placed in districts where gambling is allowed, which means to say, not within the church distance or schools,” Duterte told a briefing.
The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp this month did not renew the exclusive license of Philweb Corp, an operator of more than 300 cafes offering e-bingo and e-games across the country.
“I was mad because even the youth are gambling and there was no way of collecting the proper taxes,” Duterte said.
The president had singled out Philweb’s owner Roberto Ongpin, one of the richest men in the Southeast Asian nation, as an example of an oligarch.
The Philippines, which has one of Asia’s most freewheeling gaming industry, stands to lose about 10 billion pesos ($215 million) in annual revenues following the government’s decision not to renew the licenses of operating e-bingo and e-games outlets.
“Pay the correct taxes... Gamble until you die. I do not really care,” Duterte said.
Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman