Casinos get a pass in laundering law




MANILA, Philippines—Casinos were given a free pass as Congress Wednesday passed a tougher law against money-laundering but protected the government’s bid to chase mega-dollars in Asia’s gaming boom.

The amendments passed by the Senate and House of Representatives apply to businesses other than banks and aim to stop the funneling of proceeds from criminal activity, as well as to block terror funding.

They also raise prison terms and fines.

However, Senator Teofisto Guingona said casinos and Internet gaming were excluded at the request of the House and of the state regulator Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.

“(They) excluded casinos from coverage because (House members) warned it would deter investors. That’s the number one reason. And number two, Pagcor,” Guingona told reporters, referring to the regulator’s abridged name.

The Senate’s passage of the law came five weeks before the opening of Entertainment City, a $4 billion Manila casino complex aimed at rivalling Macau, Las Vegas and Singapore as a gaming hub.

The latest changes to a 2001 statute are now expected to be signed into law by President Benigno Aquino. Banks were already covered under the 2001 law.

The new law’s passage followed a threat last year to blacklist the Philippines unless it assumes greater powers to scrutinize non-bank accounts, including casinos.

The threat was made by the Financial Action Task Force, an inter-governmental body fighting money-laundering and terrorist financing.

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile conceded the amendments fell short of full compliance.

“We have produced enough compliance with the requirements of the FATF, but we have to go slowly since some other countries have different circumstances,” Enrile told reporters, citing potential fallout on investments and tourism.

Guingona said the amendments also excluded Internet gambling as well as proceeds from tax evasion. “These are major items, so the law would still have a big loophole,” he said.

He said the FATF would meet in Paris on February 18 to review Philippine compliance with international standards.

“(We) will know whether what we have passed is enough for us to get out of the dark grey list,” he said, referring to countries whose efforts to combat money-laundering fell below international standards.

Guingona said inclusion in the FATF blacklist of deliberately non-compliant states would make it difficult for millions of Filipinos working abroad to send money home and hard for Filipinos to invest abroad.

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  • Klein Mo

    I am not against casinos. Casinos for instance did a great job in steering Macau’s economy to prosperity. But these exemptions are indeed extraordinary. So does this mean that politicians can just channel their plundered funds to casino establishments as investments and blunt any form of investigation?

    • WeAry_Bat

       Include tourists also.

      • Klein Mo

        You’re right. However, I guess we should be more concerned with our own money – taxes taken away by politicians from our national coffers with impunity and keep them as their own but could end up potentially beyond the arms of public legal/judicial institutions.

    • BruceInIloilo

      Macau is a rinky-dink little city-state, and still I would rather be Hong Kong that actually produced things and added value, that actually created wealth.

      The Philippines is one of the largest countries in the world — 12th most populous — Metro Manila alone (only about 10% of the country) is bigger than half the countries in the world.  To create wealth, we need to create value by making things, doing things, and growing things. Gambling merely moves money around, usually to the rich, connected, and/or corrupt.

      There is not enough gambling money out there to make the Philippines rich, but there is enough to make the connected and corrupted rich.

  • BruceInIloilo

    Corruption rears its ugly head again, and of course it is tied to gambling.  Casinos, and gambling, are a magnet for corruption.  Surprise, surprise, they are now exempted from the anti-money-laundering law.

    The incredible expansion of gambling that began under that pinnacle of virtue (cough, cough) GMA continues apace and it is leading the Philippines down.  Gambling adds no value.  Nothing is built.  Nothing is created or grown.  No task is performed of any value. Only when value is added is wealth created.  Gambling merely moves money around.

    Worse, it moves money from the poor to the rich, the connected and the corrupt.  This exemption — can you imagine exempting a cash business, one with a record of corruption and money laundering? — from the money laundering law just proves it.

  • BruceInIloilo


  • Night

    what is next…. all politicians, jueteng lords, drug lords, crime syndicates WILL OWN THE CASINOS TO LAUNDER THEIR MONEY…


  • mekeni62

    Amanyare? previous press release ipapa-monitor ang mga casinos ngayon biglang exempted. ha ha talk about double speak.

  • Guest

    Mega-Casino = Mega-Money Laundering

    Kaya pala Casinos are exempted from the newly fortified and tougher anti-money laundering law. According to Teofisto Guingona, the exemption was made at the request of the House and the Pagcor Chief Bong Naguiat (rappler,com)

    Bong Naguiat na naman? Okada’s lobby fund of USD 30 million? Lavish perks and luxury items in Macau? Misuse of Pagcor cars and resources? Despite all this — Aquino reappoints Naguiat as director of Pagcor board.

    Misuse of Pagcor cars and resources? (youtube,com/watch?v=uQpPP_VxnrQ)

  • Mattino2011

    Hindi macocontento ang FATF, , kasi un casinos same internet gambling ,,, real estateagencies to report unusual purchases,, proceeds from tax evasion di sinali

  • Marshall

    NPA salot ng Bayan….Casiñong Komunista Espiya ng Tsina…

  • ben311

    bakit kaya  hindi sinama ang casino ? hmmm

  • w4d

    Siyempre, there needs to be a legitimate entity that will be used to launder money, yet within grasp to be manipulated. The reason that it may scare customers away is B.S. Gamblers will come even if they have to sell their house(s). Gamblers won’t stop at nothing, heck they will even travel hundreds or thousands of miles to visit a casino. Clearly, these law makers are planning ahead for something that is again, self-serving.

  • Jess

    Ginagawa tayong mga mamayan BOBO. Parang ginagawa mo si Drakula in charge ng Blood Bank. Welcome to the Philippines, the money laundering capital of the world.

  • buninay1

    Buti pa ang mga bakla tunay na lalaki.  Ang mga batas natin mas bakla pa sa bakla.

  • Edgardo Mendoza

    milyon milyon turista pupunta sa pinas para lasvegas!

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