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Philippines' Rodrigo Duterte shuts down online gambling in reversal

By
Andrew V. Pestano
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte reversed course on Thursda, announcing he is shutting down online gambling operations because the government is not equipped to properly receive taxes from gambling firms. In August, he said online gambling companies could resume operations if taxes were properly paid. File Photo by Mark R. Cristino/European Press Agency
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte reversed course on Thursda, announcing he is shutting down online gambling operations because the government is not equipped to properly receive taxes from gambling firms. In August, he said online gambling companies could resume operations if taxes were properly paid. File Photo by Mark R. Cristino/European Press Agency

MANILA, Dec. 22 (UPI) -- Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday shut down online gambling in the country, citing the government's inability to properly collect taxes.

Duterte's announcement is a reversal of his August declaration in which he said he may allow online gambling firms to resume operations if they paid proper taxes to be used to fund social services.

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"I am ordering the closure of all online gaming," Duterte said while announcing next year's budget. "All of it. It has no use."

One company specifically affected is PhilWeb Corp., which runs eGame cafes in the island nation. Renewal of the company's operating license is in jeopardy following Duterte's announcement, the Manila Bulletin reported.

PhilWeb's eGame cafes were expected to resume operations before the year's end, but it is unclear what effect Duterte's most recent declaration will have on license renewal. Duterte effectively ended PhilWeb's online gambling cafe monopoly in August.

"[I'll restore] online provided taxes are correctly collected and they are situated in places or districts where gambling is allowed, meaning not within a certain distance from church and school," Duterte first said in August. "Pay the correct taxes, gamble your wealth until your death, I don't care. Just pay taxes and this will add to a special trust fund for medicine of poor people."

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The Philippines' gambling industry has attracted billions of dollars in investments.

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