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Philippines President changes views on gambling amid financial struggles

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has changed his views on gambling, and is now in favour of the activity, having been opposed to it for several years.

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Duterte cited the need to raise funds amid the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic as the reasoning behind his decision, as reported by Bloomberg.

The President has long been opposed to gambling in the country, with his views evident when he cancelled a 50-year land lease deal for the development of a $1.5bn integrated resort from Landing International Development Ltd in Manila’s Entertainment City in August 2018.

Not long after, Duterte quashed a proposed $500m casino development by Galaxy Entertainment Group and Leisure & Resorts World Corp. in Boracay, having issued an Executive Order to cancel the licences of all casino operators on the island.

And soon after that, Duterte halted lotteries run by the government’s sweepstakes office, but his perspective has now changed after funding struggles.

“Go ahead and gamble,” said Duterte. “Now that we need money, the most sensible thing is really just to encourage those activities.”

Gaming stocks in the country rose significantly after Duterte’s comments, with Bloomberry Resorts Corp. - owner of Solaire Resort & Casino - climbing 6.5%. Online gambling company PhilWeb Corp. rose 7.5%, with Leisure & Resorts World Corp. closing 5.7% higher after a two-day fall.

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