In the Philippines, gambling and the different forms of the games of chance are part of history and culture. From cockfighting to card-based games like poker and ‘pusoy dos’, all these have defined and influenced the life and ways of the general population.

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However, most forms of gambling are illegal and subject to specific penalties. One important law that spells out the penalties is Presidential Decree 1602. A law signed by then-President Ferdinand Marcos, PD 1602 prescribes stiffer penalties to individuals who engage in illegal gambling activities.

presidential decree 1602 law

Background of PD 1602

Although the law is more than four decades old, it’s still an important government policy that’s related to the regulation of the gambling industry. Before the drafting and the approval of this law, the national government has several anti-gambling laws in place. Some of the popular laws in place before 1978 are Articles 195-199 of the Revised Penal Code, RA 3063 that covers horse racing bookies, the PD 449 that regulates cockfighting, PD 483 for game-fixing, PD 510 for slot machines, PD 1306 for Jai-Alai bookies, and several policies and ordinances of the local government units.

All these laws and decrees prescribe penalties on individuals who engage in illegal gambling activities. However, these are inadequate and did not help the national government in completely addressing the issue of illegal gambling. To fully address the issue and to promote efficiency in regulating these activities, the government decided to increase the penalties, hence the approval of Presidential Decree 1602.

The law was formally signed by President Marcos on June 11, 1978, and took effect immediately upon its publication in at least one broadsheet in the country. With the passage of the law, the national authorities were given ‘more teeth’ in addressing illegal gambling activities.

What are the Penalties Under the Law

Section I of the Presidential Decree 1602 explains the new penalties to be imposed on individuals who engage in illegal gambling. As stated in Section 1 (a), the penalty is imprisonment in a medium period and a fine that ranges from Php 1,000 to Php 6,000 (roughly $20 to $120 in today’s exchange rates), and in cases of recidivism, the fine can range from Php 5,000 to Php 10,000.

What are the Illegal Gambling Activities?

Presidential Decree 1602 lists down some of the illegal and unauthorized activities that are subject to these stricter penalties. Some of the popular games of chance that are listed in the law are cockfighting, horse racing, jueteng, Jai Alai, poker and its derivatives, bingo, and other forms of lottery. The law also warns against individual or team contests that involve game fixing or point shaving. The complete list of the prohibited activities is detailed in Section I (1). In all, there are more than 30 activities that are deemed illegal under the law.

presidential decree 1602 phippines

How Does PD 1602 Affect the Gambling Industry

Keep in mind that the penalties and the rules of the law only apply to illegal activities. In short, the conditions on this decree does not directly affect the operations of fully licensed and regulated casinos and bingo houses. This means that if you’re playing at a casino that’s owned to regulated by PAGCOR, then you don’t have to worry about the penalties. Presidential Decree 1602 simply amended and improved the provisions in the previous laws and decrees like Articles 195-199, RA 3063, PD 483, PD 449, PD 510, and PD 1306. In short, the main intent of the law is to promote legal gambling activities in the country and stop the popularity of illegal gambling activities.

How the Law Affects Online Gambling

Presidential Decree 1602 did not affect the operations of the online casino and the online gambling industry in general. One reason for this is that online casinos are not yet available at the time of the ratification of the law. Therefore, there are no lines on the decree that explicitly point to online gambling or online licensed casinos. Players planning to create an account with licensed offshore online casinos should not worry since the law is not clear on online gambling. To ensure the safety and protection, one should only consider the online sportsbooks or casinos that are based offshore and fully licensed.


? What is the main purpose of Presidential Decree 1602?

This law spells out stricter penalties for individuals who engage in illegal gambling activities?

? What is the penalty for individuals who engage in illegal gambling?

According to Section 1 (a), the fee ranges from Php 1,000 to Php 6,000 with medium-term imprisonment. The fee is higher for recidivism which can reach Php 10,000.

❓ Does the law cover licensed offshore online casinos?

No. This law only covers illegal gambling activities in the country. In fact, players should not worry if they play at casinos that are owned or regulated by PAGCOR.