Philippine casinos put on black money watch

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A new law just signed by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte places casinos under money laundering scrutiny, mainly as a result of a case when proceeds from an $81 million digital theft from Bangladesh’s central bank were funneled through several gambling establishments in Manila last year.

The new law enables authorities to monitor large transactions at casinos to curb money-laundering as casinos are now required to report to the central bank’s anti-money laundering council all transactions exceeding five million pesos (around $99,000).

It also authorises the council to obtain court orders freezing these funds for up to six months if it is suspected they were “in any way related to an unlawful activity”.

The law basically extends the existing anti-money laundering law from 2001, which covers banks, trusts, insurance companies, investment houses, securities dealers, money changers and money remittance firms, but casinos were exempted in the past.

The coverage of the law was also expanded to include Internet- and ship-based casinos.

Manila in recent years emerged as a gaming hub aiming to rival Las Vegas and Macau with its own Entertainment City district, with 2015 gross gaming revenues of about 133.3 billion pesos ($2.62 billion), according to latest regulatory figures. Over the past four years, three huge casinos costing at least $1 billion each have risen on Manila Bay, with a fourth scheduled to open in 2019.

The Philippines’ largest casino owner and also regulator is the state-run Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) which oversees 32 casinos, issues licenses including for online gambling and employs 11,000 staff.

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A new law just signed by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte places casinos under money laundering scrutiny, mainly as a result of a case when proceeds from an $81 million digital theft from Bangladesh's central bank were funneled through several gambling establishments in Manila last year. The new law enables authorities to monitor large transactions at casinos to curb money-laundering as casinos are now required to report to the central bank's anti-money laundering council all transactions exceeding five million pesos (around $99,000). It also authorises the council to obtain court orders freezing these funds for up to six months if it...

Reading Time: 1 minute

A new law just signed by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte places casinos under money laundering scrutiny, mainly as a result of a case when proceeds from an $81 million digital theft from Bangladesh’s central bank were funneled through several gambling establishments in Manila last year.

The new law enables authorities to monitor large transactions at casinos to curb money-laundering as casinos are now required to report to the central bank’s anti-money laundering council all transactions exceeding five million pesos (around $99,000).

It also authorises the council to obtain court orders freezing these funds for up to six months if it is suspected they were “in any way related to an unlawful activity”.

The law basically extends the existing anti-money laundering law from 2001, which covers banks, trusts, insurance companies, investment houses, securities dealers, money changers and money remittance firms, but casinos were exempted in the past.

The coverage of the law was also expanded to include Internet- and ship-based casinos.

Manila in recent years emerged as a gaming hub aiming to rival Las Vegas and Macau with its own Entertainment City district, with 2015 gross gaming revenues of about 133.3 billion pesos ($2.62 billion), according to latest regulatory figures. Over the past four years, three huge casinos costing at least $1 billion each have risen on Manila Bay, with a fourth scheduled to open in 2019.

The Philippines’ largest casino owner and also regulator is the state-run Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) which oversees 32 casinos, issues licenses including for online gambling and employs 11,000 staff.

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