Philippines: Pagcor suspends all gaming operations; all poker rooms closed in Manila

With the rising number of infected cases in the city, Metro Manila is currently left with no choice but to take extra precautions in the fight against the deadly Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The President of the country declared earlier this week a community quarantine to be observed beginning March 15 to April 14, 2020, which means that movement of people shall be limited to accessing basic necessities and work; and uniformed personnel and quarantine officers shall be present at border points with travel restrictions in and out of the capital also being implemented. As such, establishments all over the metropolitan area are being affected by the order with multiple businesses halting operations in efforts to curb the spread of infections.

Pagcor suspends all gaming operations

Just today, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) ordered the suspension of all casino and other gaming operations in Metro Manila amid the increasing threat of coronavirus disease or COVID-19 in the country. The order is set to remain in force throughout the duration of the imposed community quarantine. PAGCOR advises that this extreme measure was carried out to ensure the safety of both gaming employees, customers and the general public as well.

“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 announced on its Facebook page.


Posted by PAGCOR on Saturday, 14 March 2020

Philippine offshore gaming operations (POGO) will, however, remain but with certain limitations such as only a minimum number of workers will be allowed in their workplaces with the rest being restricted to their living quarters where they will observe social distancing and quarantine protocols.

One Last Winner Before Closure Crowned at PokerStars Live Manila

Jose Colada
Jose Colada

The Okada Millions series was scheduled to take place from March 9-15, 2020 at Okada Manila, hosting 16 events within the 7-day duration. To comply with regulations, the festival was inevitably cut short cancelling the last five events of the series.

Three days before the event was set up to end, PokerStars Manila announced that the poker room will be temporarily closed from March 14, 2020 at 11:59pm until further notice.

With one Day 1 flight cancelled and the final day moved up a day ahead, the Main Event still met its initial guarantee of PHP 3,000,000 (~USD 58,990) along with an affordable buy-in of PHP 3,500 (~USD 69). The highlight of the series attracted a total of 724 entries with the top 87 finishers receiving a payout.

Despite the fears regarding the circulating virus, Filipino national, Jose Colada III emerged victorious claiming two PokerStars trophies for the Main Event and PLO event. Entering the final table with an average stack, Colada’s efforts paid out resulting in a nice PHP 700,000 (~USD 13,764) paycheck.

The top prize included a ticket worth PHP 65,000 (~USD 1,278) to the Manila Megastack Challenge Main Event set to occur this coming December 6-13, 2020 at the same casino complex.

Metro Card Club Closed

89706548 3132402916881194 2513648477775331328 o

Earlier today, local poker room Metro Card Club released an announcement on its Facebook page regarding its temporary closure in efforts to help curb the spread of the virus. Metro Card Club, located conveniently at the heart of the Ortigas business district, is currently the biggest poker venue in the country, running at a 30 table capacity. Open 24 hours a day and seven days a week, players flock to the establishment eager to join its daily tournaments and juicy cash games. Consequently, regular players of the property will be forced to satisfy their gaming urges through online platforms instead with the business closed until further notice.

Period of Uncertainty for the Workers of a Full Industry

In cooperation with the directives from the country’s gaming regulatory body, casinos all over Metro Manila are shutting down temporarily, forcing thousands of workers to be out of work. Millions of Filipinos situated in the capital of the Philippines are currently experiencing a period of uncertainty as numerous businesses are directly affected with the imposed quarantine. With the mass population advised to remain at home, many are worried on where to get the income they would require to cover their daily needs for the coming weeks. As a huge majority in the country lives below the poverty line, most rely on their day-to-day wage to support the expenses they incur.

In a press release, Senator Risa Hontiveros said that “in times of crisis, cashflow is crucial especially for poor Filipino families who need money for essential items like food, shelter, water, and medicine,” as community quarantine measures are imposed in Metro Manila.

“Habang marami ang nagpa-panic-buying, mas marami ang panic na lang kasi walang pang-buy,” she adds. (While many are panic-buying, more are panicking because they have nothing to buy with)

Hontiveros warns that at least 650,000 Filipino households would become the “new poor” in Metro Manila because of the economic slowdown in the capital.

During these unfortunate times, it is with no doubt that the whole country is striving to make the best out of the ongoing situation. Efforts to quarantine the populated area and contain the virus are expected to lessen the infections in the following months and improve the overall state of the country.

Avatar photo

Louis Hartwell

Graduated in Media Communication at the University of Lausanne, Louis Hartman is a co-founder of He began his career in Cambodia as freelance journalist. In same time he was making his living by playing poker every night at that time. Intense learner, he read dozens of poker strategy books to improve his skills during many years. With a strong interest about poker "behind the scene" in Asia and his communication skills, Louis launched Somuchpoker in 2014.

More Posts

Follow Me:
Special EmailTwitterFacebookFlickrYouTube