PAGCOR, the Philippine gambling regulator, announced in a Sunday statement that it is suspending all gaming operations with immediate effect in response to the growing global coronavirus crisis.
The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the Philippines has reached 140 as of today, March 16, and 12 patients infected with the virus have died.
In line with an order issued by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte that Metro Manila be put under community quarantine to prevent the further spread of the dangerous virus, PAGCOR said Sunday that it has moved to immediately suspend all gaming operations.
The suspension involves the closure of land-based casinos, both ones owned and operated by PAGCOR as well as all casino properties, including integrated casino resorts, run by private companies.
PAGCOR’s suspension order also affects electronic games (eGames), bingo (traditional and electronic), sports betting facilities, poker and slot machine clubs as well as other operations that are licensed and regulated by PAGCOR.
The closure of gambling facilities will last for the duration of the nearly one-month National Capital Region community quarantine that was recently imposed by the government.
PAGCOR said in its Sunday statement that restaurants and food outlets located within the gaming areas may remain open, in accordance with a directive from Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.
Hotels that house casinos and other gaming facilities may, too, remain open and continue to accommodate guests, but are urged to cancel any large functions and events.
Quarantine to Affect Offshore Gambling Operations, Too
The Philippine gambling regulator said that Philippine offshore gaming operations (POGOs) will also be affected by the recently enforced community quarantine. As per the regulator’s statement, “only a minimum number of [POGO] workers will be allowed in their workplaces.”
The rest of the employees at online gambling operators providing their services from within Metro Manila will be “restricted to their respective living quarters where they will observe social distancing and quarantine protocols.”
The community quarantine restricts movement in Metro Manila to accessing basic necessities and work. As part of the measures implemented by the Philippine government to contain the spread of the coronavirus, curfew in Manila City from 8 pm to 5 am is set to take effect today.
PAGCOR said that it “believes in the seriousness of the Covid-19 situation” and that it supports the “government’s extreme effort in containing the virus.”
The regulator went on that for its part, it has decided to prohibit all public gatherings across gaming venues it owns as well as across the licensed gaming properties it regulates. The measure aims to ensure the safety of both people employed in the gaming industry and customers, and “eventually the general public.”