Philippine Presidential Decree No. 1602

Philippine Flag in front of legal scalePhilippine Presidential Decree No. 1602 is a Philippine gambling law enacted by then-President Ferdinand Marcos on June 11th, 1978. This Presidential Decree implemented harsh penalties for the individuals participating and hosting illegal gaming activities. It was believed at the time that more stringent penalties for violations would reduce the number of illegal gambling operations.

Creation of Presidential Decree No. 1602

PD No. 1602 was considered a necessary law created by the Philippine President in conjunction with the Philippine Government to create a gambling law which would establish and enforce severe penalties for illegal gambling. The legislation was necessary to also clarify permissible gambling games and simplified the country’s gambling laws as several Presidential Decrees regarding individual games were made.

Primarily the need to curb illegal gambling operations which continued in the Philippines created PD No. 1602. The Presidential Decree updated previously made gambling laws and established a cohesive framework.

PD No. 1602 Specifics

Section 1 of PD No. 1602 detailed the penalty for those caught directly or indirectly participating in illegal wagering such as fines ranging from 500 pesos to 2,000 pesos for first-time offenders to 1,000 pesos to 6,000 pesos for repeat offenders. The law included a list of illegal games to be operated by an unlicensed individual. The Decree also detailed provisions for location hosts of these illegal games punishing them with a fine of 6,000 pesos and potential jail time.

Interestingly enough, the law also included penalties for illegal games operated by a Government employee likely to tackle any corruption within the Government’s ranks. The Presidential Decree also lists that any bangary official whose jurisdiction is caught with an illegal gambling operation of which they have gained a reputation for will face prison time and a fine of 500 to 2,000 pesos, as well as, temporary suspension from his post.

The intention of PD No. 1602

The Philippine Government explained that PD No. 1602 would curb the “social menace which consistently drained the energy and resources of the people” that was illegal, unregulated illegitimate gambling operations.

Presidential Decree No. 1602 only targeted existing laws and unlawful gambling operations in the Philippines. This Philippine gambling law created criminal provisions and made penalties for violations more effective. This Presidential Decree supported the domestic legal market in the country and encouraged legal gambling within casinos and clubs. Essentially, PD No. 1602 pushed illegal gambling out of favor by making it a risk to participate in and operate due to enforceable penalties.

No provisions within PD 1602 affect online gambling markets simply because the Presidential Decree is older than the introduction of the internet to the Philippines. This means that legitimate Philippine online casinos are unaffected by this gambling law.

Issues With PD No. 1602

PD No. 1602 face some minor scrutiny for rewarding informants of illegal gambling operations, which lead to successful arrests. The incentive seemed unfair and likely to be manipulated despite its intention to assist law enforcement. PD No. 1602 also faced criticism that the penalties imposed were not harsh enough to be effective.

Other issues with Presidential Decree No. 1602 was the lack of mention of online gambling in any way since some critics could try to apply whatever term they wanted, such as the term “vessel” to online gaming. This would later cause issues, and new clearer legislation was needed.