A Change of Views in the Philippines

What does it take to make someone change their opinions about gambling? A financial crisis seems to be one way to do it. That’s what is happening in the cash-strapped Philippines where President Rodrigo Duterte has had an amazing change of views.

This is a politician who has long spoken out against gambling in the Philippines. That was shown three years ago when making a controversial decision. There was to be a 50-year land lease that would see a $1.5 billion integrated resort built in Manila’s Entertainment City.

That looked to be something that would help the economy and create plenty of jobs. However, it was a gambling-related project, so the President cancelled it. That wasn’t a one-off ‘look what I can do’ action. Soon after he was at it again as he stopped a $500 million casino development in Boracay. The President sent out an Executive Order that ended any possibility of the development happening. His order caused all the casino operators on the island to have their licenses cancelled.

He didn’t just have his eyes set on making trouble for casinos. The government’s sweepstakes office was running a lottery. That was also cancelled by the gambling hating President. However, all seems to have changed now.

Covid has caused havoc around the world and not just because of the far too high infection and death rate. The Philippines has had its problems too and many gamblers in the country probably fell of their chairs when Duterte made this statement. “Go ahead and gamble. Now that we need money, the most sensible thing is really just to encourage those activities.”

His sudden change of opinion has done wonders for gaming stocks in the Philippines. There’s been a 7.5% rise for PhilWeb.Corp and 6.5% for Bloomberry Resorts who are the owners of the Solaire Resort & Casino.

You have to wonder what will happen if their financial situation improves. Will the President look at the accounts, smile and then go back to how he thought before and revert to his old views on gambling? That’s the views he really believes in, not ones that are basically forced on him when the coffers run empty.
It’s similar to what has happened in the USA. For years there was no online gambling allowed, especially sports betting. A US Supreme Court ruling led to it being individual states to decide whether or not to legalize gambling.

Did the states suddenly decide that it was ok to bet on sport or simply look at the amount of tax revenue that is just waiting to be received. May saw Illinois and New Jersey’s sportsbooks take over $1 billion and that was lower than in the previous month. Amazing how money can change opinions isn’t it?