The Philippine Gambling Landscape: Casinos, Legalization, and the Current Scene

Gambling has woven a tapestry throughout the history of the Philippine archipelago, spanning centuries. Presently, the nation aspires to establish itself as a premier gambling hub in Asia, with foreign investments flooding into the country’s hotels and casino industry. Manila, the capital, is gradually emerging as a real haven for players. If you’re curious about betting in the Philippines, this article will answer your questions. Continue reading!

The Origins of Philippine Casinos: A Brief Historical Overview

In 1977, the inaugural legal casino in the Philippines set sail on a three-story ship in Manila Bay, only to succumb to fire two years later. However, this setback did not dissuade Philippine authorities from envisioning Greater Manila as one of the world’s most renowned gambling destinations. It’s no surprise that the first casino was established in this prosperous area, known as the country’s center for education, media, finance, and technology.

Today, players from around the world can explore around 20 physical casinos in the Greater Manila area and partake in a unique gaming experience. All Philippine casinos are nestled within luxury hotels and resorts, presenting visitors with a comprehensive experience. You can find a myriad of casino games, ranging from traditional favorites like roulette and blackjack to various modern slot machines.

Presently, there are 13 casinos in the Philippines, predominantly situated in Manila Bay, Malate, Cebu, and Angeles.

Legalization of Gambling in the Philippines: Legislative History

The gambling industry in the Philippines has a storied history, having been legalized since the sixteenth century. While no precise records indicate when gambling activities commenced, it’s likely that Chinese traders introduced some forms of gambling in the late sixteenth century. Due to the proximity of the two countries, many local Chinese engaged in business, trade, and various activities in the Philippines. Cockfighting, mentioned as early as 1521 when Magellan’s ship arrived at Palawan Island, is an example.

Throughout history, gambling with substantial stakes has been a concern, prompting authorities in various periods, including Spanish conquerors and later Americans, to attempt to restrict gambling activities. However, authorities ultimately failed to effectively control gambling. Instead of prohibiting it, they chose to increase the national budget from gambling revenues. Consequently, today’s Philippine gambling has become a national phenomenon, attracting players from around the world.

Philippine Gambling Laws and Regulatory Authority

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), established in 1976, monopolizes the regulation of gambling activities in the country. PAGCOR, a 100% government-owned entity, issues licenses for the country’s gaming operations, with 50% of the revenue going directly to the national budget. The only areas not under PAGCOR control are Cagayan and the Freeport Economic Zone, where privately-owned casinos exclusively open to tourists operate.

While gambling is popular and supported by the government, a stricter stance has been taken regarding online gambling in the Philippines.

There’s minimal legal difference between Cagayan and the rest of the country concerning physical gambling, but attitudes toward online gambling differ. In the Cagayan province, online gambling sites are only open to foreign players, and Filipinos are restricted from using these domains in most parts of the country.


The Philippines, with its thriving gambling industry and a rich history of legalization, stands as a vibrant destination for both local and international players. Whether you’re seeking traditional casino games or modern slot machines, the Philippines offers a diverse and enticing gaming experience.

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