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Philippine poker on a boom


Apart from this newfound popularity in the poker scene, the Philippines is also garnering a reputation as having Asia’s most favorable jurisdictions for licensing and regulating online gaming. As such, several online poker sites are operating directly from the Philippines.

The Philippines is the country second only to Macau for the total number of casinos in Asia. In 2018, these casinos should generate gross gaming revenues of $6 billion, putting the country in the top four in the world for gambling activities.

In the Philippines, casinos have been open to locals and foreigners since a 1976 presidential decree that created the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation.

The 100 percent state-owned PAGCOR is responsible for licensing the nation’s gambling operations, and runs 13 casinos across the country, with 50 percent of the revenues going straight to the National Treasury.

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation is a very big contributor of revenue to the Philippine government and employs over 11,000 people. It is, however, not the only player in the industry; other companies are able to offer land-based gambling in this country as well.

There are currently four gambling jurisdictions in the country. In addition to PAGCOR and its new Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator licenses; the PCSO, CEZA and APECO are authorized by the government to administer some forms of gambling.

This is quite an unusual situation since PAGCOR regulates its smaller competitors, but so far, the arrangement has worked quite well in the Philippines.


Live poker venues

Live poker is popular in the country with over 20 poker rooms offering cash games and live tournaments on hundreds of tables, located next to 60 casinos.

Since there are no laws about how many table games a casino can offer, many of these poker rooms are quite large. Also, one of the upsides of having casinos regulated by PAGCOR is that they apply the same rake rules.

It is 10 percent of the pot capped at P300 in 25/50 games, P400 in 50/100 games and P500 in 100/200 games. Additionally, many casinos have a no-tip policy. PAGCOR is also vigilant concerning cheating; players found cheating are blacklisted nationwide.

No Limit Hold’em is widely available, but you can also find some other games such as Omaha or Open Face Chinese Poker.

Although there are 33 cities with gambling facilities in the Philippines, Manila is definitely the center of the poker scene. There, Resorts World and Solaire usually get the highest limits (P200/400 — $4/$8) whilst clubs like Metro Card Club host smaller games (P50/100).

The other two poker destinations in the Philippines are Angeles and Cebu, the second largest city. In Angeles City, you will find two main poker rooms on the Walking Street: Wild Aces and Double Aces. Concerning Cebu, your best bet is the Waterfront Casino.

PAGCOR’s biggest project to date is the Las Vegas-style complex in Bay City, Metro Manila called “The Entertainment City” which occupies 8km2 of the Manila Bay area and is home to international resort and casino brands like City of Dreams Manila, Resorts World Bayshore, Solaire Resort and Casino, and the newly built Okada Manila and Westside City. Expected to open in 2020, Entertainment City will offer 5,000 hotel rooms, enough to accommodate well over a million visitors each year.


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