Duterte appears to soften hardline stance on gambling

President Rodrigo Duterte says he will no longer “meddle” with gambling in the country, apparently softening his hardline approach to the industry, according to local media reports.

At a political rally on Saturday, he said he was “lacking” in his campaign against gambling, saying all he can do is to urge people not to become involved.

“That gambling-gambling, I will not meddle with it anymore, just do not enter. I cannot control it, really… I will let you in, but not extortion or drugs,” he was cited as saying.

Duterte added Filipinos themselves should decide whether or not to patronize games of chance.

The president early last year put a moratorium on new casino licenses, effectively shutting the door to investors in one of Asia’s most promising markets. It’s unclear whether his Saturday comments mean that ban will now be relaxed.