The Philippines has a rich gambling history. The country's gambling history can be traced back to the 16th century. Filipinos have been gambling ever since, but external influences from the Chinese and the Spanish colonization left an indelible mark on the Filipino gaming industry.
The Spanish colonial period, in particular, saw gambling become institutionalized in the form of billiard halls, card parlors, cock pits, and much more. At the time, the Spanish influence grew astronomically, which saw almost every village in the country with a cock pit.
Cockfighting, in particular, was instrumental in making other forms of gambling grow. There were increasing concerns on the prevalence of gambling addiction at the time, which forced authorities to limit gambling to specific days of the week. This move proved challenging to control as gambling spread fast, leading to decriminalization.
The legality of gambling in the Philippines is not new. With the Spanish colonialists having banned gambling, it was soon reintroduced in 1912 to allow for horseracing. And in the 1930s, the regulations were further loosened to legalize sweepstakes.
1976 marked a new dawn in the Filipino gambling industry following the formation of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR). This body was formed to license and regulate ten casinos in the country at the time. In 1985, PAGCOR's jurisdiction was increased to cover bingo and lottery games.
2016 saw poker games and other forms of online games legalized in the Philippines. However, it only took three years before President Rodrigo Duterte opted to close all gambling websites that were not regulated by PAGCOR. It did not take long (2019) before the President made a sudden turn legalizing online gambling to raise more revenue for the government.
It is safe to say that a lot has happened in the Filipino gambling industry over the years. The standout change is the move from cock pit fights to online sports betting.