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Manila opened its doors to online casinos in 2016. The industry now powers the city's real estate sector and employs close to half a million people, many of them Chinese. (Photo by Kimberly dela Cruz)
The Big Story

Tensions flare around Manila's lucrative online casinos

Duterte holds out on a crackdown, but relations with Beijing -- and locals -- grow strained

CLIFF VENZON, Nikkei staff writer | Philippines

MANILA -- Business along Quirino Avenue near Manila's airport had been in a period of long decline, until it began a sudden resurgence over the last year. Restaurants, spas and apartments have opened. Locals were hired as security guards, drivers and housekeepers, all catering to the area's new clientele: Chinese migrants.

The area's recovery could have been a perfect case study in how Manila's diplomatic entente with China could result in tangible benefits for the people of the Philippines. The reality is more complex. The boom has been fueled by money from online gambling, an industry that is loathed by Beijing, straining relations between the two countries. At the same time, the influx of migrants has created pockets of social tension.

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