Congress approves bill including casinos in AMLA coverage

If enacted into law, casinos and junket operators will be included in the covered persons of the Anti-Money Laundering Law

Both the Senate and House of Representatives approved on third and final reading their respective versions of the bill that would expand the coverage of the existing Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) or RA 9160 to include casinos, in a bid to improve the country's legal framework against money-laundering and make it more compliant to international standards. Both the Senate and House versions primarily sought to put more teeth into the existing AMLA by including the casino industry under the coverage of the law.

In the Senate, Senate Bill No. 1468 was passed with 21 affirmative votes, no negative vote and no abstention, while a total of 219 lawmakers voted in favor of House Bill 5663 in the Lower House.  No House Representative voted against its passage and no one abstained.

Under the proposal, any single casino cash transaction involving an amount in excess of five million pesos (Php5,000,000) or its equivalent in any other currency will now be considered as a "covered transaction" under the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC). Furthermore, under the proposed amendment, the covered persons would now include internet and ship-based casinos and chipwashing or junket operators, with respect to their casino financial transactions related to their gaming operations.

The Anti-Money Laundering Act, was first passed into law in 2001 and established the Anti-Money Laundering Council to ensure that the country will not be used as a money laundering site for the proceeds of any unlawful activity. In 2013, through the enactment of Republic Act No. 10365, the Anti-Money Laundering Act was amended to further strengthened the anti-money laundering drive. However, the amended measure still did not cover casinos.