Manila Casinos Remain Shuttered Until September 7, But ‘Circumcision Season’ Returns to Philippines

Manila casinos will remain closed for another week.

Manila casino Philippines COVID-19
Manila casino Philippines COVID-19
Young boys in the Philippines undergo circumcisions in 2019. The outdoor procedures are returning, despite Manila casinos remaining shut due to ongoing COVID-19 spread and related concerns. (Image: GMA Network)

The Philippines’ COVID-19 Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases announced yesterday that the four integrated resorts (IR) in the Manila capital metro cannot welcome back guests until at least September 7.

The country’s health agency previously ordered Mania’s gaming industry to remain shuttered through August 31. The extension will further damage Entertainment City and the Filipino economy as a whole, as City of Dreams, Okada, Solaire, and Resorts World play a critical role in the financial well-being of the Philippines.

Manila’s National Capital Region remains in a Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) through next Tuesday. Under the COVID-19 safety classification, indoor and outdoor dining is prohibited, personal care services including beauty salons, barbershops, and nail spas must remain closed, and religious services are to remain virtual.

Virus Rages On

COVID-19 continues to spread violently throughout the Philippines. Yesterday alone, the country reported 18,528 new coronavirus cases and 101 deaths. Since the pandemic’s onset, the Southeast Asia nation has seen nearly two million cases, and 33,109 virus-related deaths.

According to the latest data, as of August 25, just 12 percent of adults in the Philippines have been fully vaccinated. For comparison, more than 52 percent of US adults are fully inoculated.

Despite poor COVID-19 vax rates, the Philippines has ordered its medical community to recommence the country’s annual “circumcision season.” Long a staple in the nation prior to being halted due to the pandemic, mass circumcision clinics attract throngs of young boys to undergo free outdoor surgeries.

Circumcision is viewed as a sort of rite of passage in the Philippines.

In the Philippines, circumcision was common in the past as it is at present, being an integral aspect of the social organization of the society,” explained R.B. Lee, a professor at De La Salle University in Manila.

Duterte Desperate

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte is well aware that his country’s economy is reeling. The government recently cut its economic growth forecast for 2021 to four to five percent from six to seven percent.

The Filipino government’s top two tax sources are the Bureau of Internal Revenue and casino gambling. With land-based casino operations greatly damaged by the virus, Duterte has been forced to flip-flop his previously strong anti-gambling attitudes.

In 2018, Duterte was ruthlessly opposed to allowing a casino on Boracay Island, a premiere vacation destination in the Philippines. He interjected to block more than $500 million IR project from Galaxy Entertainment that had initially been authorized by PAGCOR.

Now, Duterte is telling Galaxy, a Hong Kong-based casino operator that is one of the six license holders in China’s Macau, that the company is welcome in Boracay. Galaxy has yet to announce whether it will reconsider the project.

COVID-19 has also resulted in Duterte allowing PAGCOR, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, to permit the four large-scale IR properties in Manila to operate online gaming for its VIP players. The four casinos can facilitate and accept iGaming wagers from only their well-documented high rollers who frequented Manila prior to the pandemic.

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