By Antonio Manaytay
The recently enacted e-Gambling ordinance by the local council of Ipil town in Zamboanga Sibugay had raised concerns and apprehensions from the church people and civil society organizations.
Among the concerns raised by those who opposed the ordinance is the fear that it will encourage the proliferation of gambling in the municipality. Some have questioned that if allowing e-gambling is legal but “is it moral?”
Much had already been said about the ordinance but the fact is no single e-gaming operator has operated yet in the municipality.
Councilor Manuelito Largo, the author of the ordinance, said the purpose of the measure is to provide a regulatory framework as far as e-gaming is concerned.
The ordinance, he said, aims to ensure that an electronic gaming operator is compliant to established regulations.
In the mind of the measure’s author, the purpose is not to encourage gambling but to “provide a framework to regulate” all e-gambling operations when the time comes.
Largo said the ordinance sets the limit who is allowed to play or place a bet in e-gambling.
The ordinance does not allow “person below 18 years of age, students, government employees and officials, and men in uniform to place a bet or play any games of chance.”
He said the ordinance seeks to impose stringent regulatory measures to any e-gambling operator to comply with.
While acknowledging that granting of the license to e-gambling operations belongs to PAGCOR, Section 6 of the ordinance requires the operator to “secure a permit from the local government.”
Aside from the fees the operator pays to PAGCOR, the ordinance requires the operator to “pay the required license fees pursuant to the existing laws in relation to the Municipal Revenue Code.”
Opposition to the measure asks if there is no other way to generate income for the municipality. Critics said the ordinance could open the floodgates for more gambling operations to proliferate.
With or without the e-gambling ordinance, however, some forms of gambling had already existed, said the proponents of the ordinance.
Councilor Valentino Inoferio said: “Daghang Lotto outlets ug STL (Small Town Lottery), nganong giaprubahan man?”
“Kining gambling nga wala gi-allow sa balaod illegal ni sila. Pero kining gi-allow sa balaod legal na,” said the councilor.
PAGCOR and e-Gambling
Before the local council had enacted the ordinance several types of e-gambling had already proliferated in the municipality and elsewhere. Electronic gambling is a game of chance played out on the computer. Some forms of e-gambling include e-Bingo, e-Casino, cockfight, and online sports betting.
The authority to operate, supervise, and regulate e-gambling belongs to Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
PAGCOR is a government-owned and controlled corporation. Created by virtue of Presidential Decree 1869, its mandate includes revenue-generation to fund the different government socio-economic programs.
It has the authority to operate, issue permits and license, and regulate all forms of game of chance.
In 2017, PAGCOR had netted some P57.34 billion, higher than the P53.3 billion recorded in 2016. PAGCOR supports the construction of drug rehabilitation centers, medical assistance for the poor and needy, ambulances, poverty alleviation programs. (Mindanao Sun/ Featured Image: Pixabay)