State-run Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. said over the weekend it is suspending all casino and gaming operations effective immediately in line with the instruction of President Rodrigo Duterte to put Metro Manila under community quarantine to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease-2019.
It said in a statement the suspension would apply to land-based casinos, whether PAGCOR-owned and operated, 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 the agency.
It said the suspension would last for the duration of the National Capital Region community quarantine imposed by the government.
PAGCOR, however, said, in accordance with Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea’s directive, restaurants and food outlets within the gaming areas could remain open and hotels where the casinos and gaming facilities are housed could continue to accommodate guests. These hotels are discouraged from hosting large functions and events.
“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 said.
“This measure is intended to ensure the safety of both gaming employees and customers and eventually, the general public,” it said.
It said that with Philippine offshore gaming operations, only a minimum number of workers would be allowed in their workplaces. The rest of POGO workers would be restricted to their respective living quarters where they are to observe social distancing and quarantine protocols.
PAGCOR said that prior to the suspension of operations, it remitted P2 billion to the Social-Civic Projects Fund under the Ofﬁce of the President for the Department of Health’s procurement of personnel protective equipment and operating expenses of the Bureau of Quarantine and support for the tests being conducted by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine.
It is also in the process of procuring protective equipment and food for frontline workers and communities affected by the pandemic.
PAGCOR said that in areas outside NCR, operations of PAGCOR properties would also be suspended once the local government declared community quarantine.