Casino staff in the Philippines are no longer allowed to gamble in any of the country’s gaming establishments, apparently as a result of the government’s desire to temper local gambling appetites.

In an announcement posted to the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) website, Angeline Papica-Entienza, Assistant VP of the Gaming Licensing and Development Department, announced that “all employees of licensees holding Gaming Employment License (GEL) are prohibited from playing in any gaming establishments in the Philippines.”

The notice, which was dated September 6, states that the names and relevant information of all GEL holders is to be integrated into the National Database of Restricted Persons (NDRP), a computerized database of individuals who are restricted from playing in gaming establishments operated and regulated by PAGCOR nationwide.

At the end of the second quarter of 2018, PAGCOR’s NDRP featured a total of 1,303 names, although 632 of these exclusions had since expired. Nearly two-thirds of these exclusions were sought by family members of the gambler, while most of the rest were gamblers who’d opted for self-exclusion.

The NDRP’s ‘licensee-emanating’ category featured only 13 names at the end of last year, but a further nine names were added in Q2 2018.

PAGCOR appears interested in avoiding the fate of Macau, where casino dealers have long been overrepresented on the local registry of problem gamblers, and some local loan sharks have made a solid business fuelling these dealers’ gambling activities.

It’s not just casino staff who are coming under closer scrutiny. Last year, the Philippines National Police decided to monitor its officers’ activities in casinos after some current and former cops were found to be involved in an illegal money-lending business that preyed on down-on-their-luck gamblers in Manila’s casinos.

The Philippines is home to a growing number of major integrated resort casinos that cater to a primarily international clientele, plus numerous smaller gaming halls scattered across the country that cater to local residents, as well as serving as the primary licensing hub for Asian-facing online gambling operators.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has run hot and cold toward the local gaming industry – lately more cold than hot – and his ‘unpredictability’ reportedly played role in Melco Resorts & Entertainment’s recent decision to delist its Philippine subsidiary from the local stock exchange.