All gaming establishments in the Philippines have now “been ordered to suspend operations,” the country’s gaming regulator confirmed in an emailed statement to GGRAsia on Tuesday. The measure – part of efforts to contain the spread of the Covid-19 virus – represents an expansion of a ban that was already in effect in Metro Manila, said the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor).
“All gaming establishments in the Philippines, both Pagcor-operated and -licensed, have been ordered to suspend operations with instructions to employees to stay home in compliance with government-mandated community quarantine protocols,” a spokesperson for the regulator told us.
Only a “necessary skeletal” workforce “is allowed to work, while other employees work from home according to alternative work arrangements,” the person added.
Casino operators in Metro Manila – a region with about 12 million people – had been given until midnight on Sunday to suspend their gaming operations, as part of a month-long lockdown of the national capital region. Such lockdown is effective until April 14, subject to daily review. The order from Pagcor – also in effect until April 14 – applied to casinos, as well as to electronic games parlours, bingo (traditional and electronic), sports betting, poker and slot machine clubs.
The country’s Department of Health said that as of Sunday the nation had reported 140 cases of Covid-19 infection, and 12 deaths as a result.
The decision to expand the ban on gaming operations to the rest of the country comes after the Philippine authorities on Monday widened the lockdown in the Manila region to cover all of the country’s main island, Luzon.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Luzon would remain under lockdown until April 12 and that people should leave the house only to buy food, medicine and basic items. The decision prompted the suspension of Philippine stock, bond and currency trading from Tuesday.
President Duterte said also that the nation’s authorities would shut down transport networks, and he ordered businesses either to close or operate remotely in a bid to contain the rising Covid-19 cases in the country.
Operators of private-sector casinos in Manila have said that the suspension of their respective gaming operations and the lockdown would negatively affect their businesses.
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