Pagcor suspends operation of casinos, gaming centers
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) on Sunday suspended casino and other gaming operations within the National Capital Region (NCR) after it was placed on a community quarantine due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The suspension of gaming operations, which takes effect immediately, applies to land-based casinos (both PAGCOR-owned and operated as well as all licensed and integrated resort-casinos), electronic game (eGames), bingo (traditional and electronic), sports betting, poker and slot machine clubs, and other activities regulated by PAGCOR, and will last for the duration of the NCR community quarantine imposed by the government.
“In line with the instruction of President Rodrigo Duterte to put Metro Manila under community quarantine to prevent the further spread of the Novel Corona Virus Disease-2019 (COVID-19)… PAGCOR is suspending all gaming operations effective immediately,” the state-run gaming company said in a statement.
But PAGCOR appears to be making an exception for the Philippine offshore gaming operations (POGOs), which will be allowed to operate on a minimal capacity, and with only a few workers.
PAGCOR said it would maintain a skeletal workforce to ensure that the POGOs would continue to function.
“As regards Philippine offshore gaming operations (POGO), only a minimum number of workers will be allowed in their workplaces. The rest of POGO workers will be restricted to their respective living quarters where they will observe social distancing and quarantine protocols,” it said.
Sought for clarification, PAGCOR Senior Manager Eric Balcos said in a telephone conversation that all gaming centers operated by government and those in the private sector are covered by the temporary suspension of gaming operations, including POGOs.
Balcos, however, could not give a reply when pressed why the POGOs are still allowed to operate albeit on a limited basis, saying instead to refer to PAGCOR Chairman Andres Domingo, who could not be reached for comment as of this writing.
On Friday, Duterte announced that a community quarantine will take effect in Metro Manila on Sunday, limiting movement in hopes of slowing down the spread of the disease.
Earlier, police and military forces along with health workers have trooped to Metro Manila’s entry and exit points to check, although National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) director Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas said that they are still not apprehending people who would try to cross Metro Manila’s borders.
According to Pagcor, food outlets near the gaming areas and hotels operating casinos were not ordered to close down, but they are advised against hosting events which may draw crowds, to avoid the local transmission of COVID-19.
“In accordance with Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea’s directive, restaurants and food outlets within the gaming areas may remain open. Hotels where the casinos and gaming facilities are housed may continue to accommodate guests, but are discouraged from hosting large functions and events,” Pagcor said.
“PAGCOR believes in the seriousness of the COVID-19 situation. Hence, it supports the government’s extreme effort in containing the virus. For its part, the state-run gaming agency has decided to prohibit public gatherings in its gaming venues and in the licensed gaming properties that it regulates,” it added.
As of Sunday morning, the Philippines has already recorded 111 COVID-19 cases in, with at least eight people dying from it. The worldwide number of incidents goes way over 152,000 persons, while 5,801 individuals have died, most of which coming from China, the virus’ place of origin.
COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus that first emerged in China’s city of Wuhan in Hubei province in late 2019.
The International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses named the novel coronavirus as SARS-CoV-2.
Coronavirus is a family of viruses, which surfaces have a crown-like appearance. The viruses are named for the spikes on their surfaces.
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