Bill proposes P3,500 casino entrance fee
A bill filed in the 16th Congress could turn casino gambling into a vice that’s strictly meant for high-rollers.
Misamis Oriental first district Rep. Peter Unabia proposed the imposition of a P3,500 casino entrance for all Filipino residents as a means of preventing “financially inadequate” people from entering such establishments.
Unabia’s House Bill (HB) No. 4859, “An Act imposing the payment of entrance fee to residents of the Philippines who patronize casinos,” is pending with the House Committee on Games and Amusements.
“The imposition of an entrance fee will discourage the locals from gambling in casinos,” Unabia said, adding that other countries have adopted policies as deterrents to their own locals from patronizing casinos.
He noted that in Singapore, the government prohibits the unemployed, people on welfare and people who have filed for bankruptcy protection from entering casinos. Its government also obliges all permanent residents to pay $100 (Singapore dollars) as entrance levy.
Unabia also cited Monaco where local residents are not allowed entry at all while foreigners who enter casinos are charged entrance fees. In India, local patrons are charged 200 rupees as an entrance fee.
The bill amends Presidential Decree (PD) No. 1869, as amended, otherwise known as “Consolidating and Amending Presidential Decree Nos. 1067-A, 1067-B, 1067-C, 1399 And 1632, Relative to the Franchise and Powers of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).”
Unabia said the charter of PAGCOR yields no requirement of an entry fee for anyone who wants to play in the casino.
However, he noted that Section 14 (3) (b) of Presidential Decree 1869 states that a resident must have a gross income of at least P50,000 for the previous year, as certified by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) in order to be allowed to play.”
“In reality, however, this requirement is neither observed nor imposed,” he said.
Unabia said PAGCOR has been implementing their built-in controls such as the issuance of player tracking system (PTS) cards or loyalty cards for casino patrons; betting at minimum bets of P500 in a single play for baccarat tables and establishment of casinos in locations where financially inadequate individuals cannot enter including luxury resorts and three-star hotels at the minimum.
Aside from the hefty entrance fee, the bill also proposes to limit to only two guests those allowed entry into the casino provided that the guests are residents of the Philippines and will also pay the entrance fee required.
Unabia said the amount realized in requiring entrance fees will serve as additional revenues for the socio-civic programs of the government as mandated by PD 1869.