The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) through its representatives who appeared before the city council Monday confirmed that they authorized and issued permits and licenses for the e-Bingo operations at SM Baguio and Baguio CenterMall.
Responding to queries from members of the august body, Ms. Nelia Lorenzo, Senior Manager of the Remote Gaming Unit, Gaming Licensing and Development Department of PAGCOR explained that the license was granted for the e-bingo operations in SM City Baguio in September of 2011 and for e-Bingo operations for CenterMall in December 2010. “That’s the e-Bingo operations, the traditional bingo has been there for years before the e-Bingo po”, she said.
Ms. Lorenzo further explained that the PAGCOR requirement for a no objection from the local government unit in so far as an e-Bingo application is concerned only took effect in June of 2012, and so the licenses and permits issued for the e-Bingo operations in SM and CenterMall came before the policy was implemented.
On a query whether PAGCOR is authorized to issue licenses Atty. Arnold Salvosa, the Senior Legal Counsel, Corporate and Legal Services Department of PAGCOR informed the city council that Presidential Decree 1869 or the Charter of PAGCOR previously did not provide for the licensing powers of their agency, however, Republic Act 9487 which further amended PD 1869 expressly provided for the licensing authority of PAGCOR. Atty. Salvosa also clarified that during the 1990s there was no existing regulation for bingo parlors being played in the malls and that eventually Congress enacted a resolution thru an indorsement of the matter for PAGCOR to regulate bingo. He futher added that, “it was an informal set up for PAGCOR based on the mandate of congress but eventually, through the amendatory provision of Republic Act 9487, it has become an express mandate of PAGCOR.”
In emphasizing the need for a resolution of no objection from the local government unit concerned as a requirement before an application for e-Bingo is issued a license, Atty. Salvosa confirmed that the said requirement is not only a policy of PAGCOR but also part of the amendatory law creating their Charter.
On the concern raised by City Councilor Lilia Yaranon that there is an administrative order issued by the Office of the City Mayor prohibiting gambling in the City of Baguio, Atty. Salvosa requested the council for a copy of the said order so that they can study the matter and with the explanation only that since the e-Bingo operators have been issued business permits from the City they assumed that the Office of the City Mayor has allowed it notwithstanding the administrative order.
It can be recalled that the invitation for PAGCOR to appear before the city council was in relation to an oral motion from City councilor Richard Cariño to request PAGCOR to withdraw the authority granted to the operators of e-Bingo at SM Baguio and CenterMall for the reason that there was no council indorsement given for their operation in the city.
The PAGCOR representatives also confirmed to the city council that they have issued five licenses so far for the city of Baguio one each for the e-Bingo operators in SM City Baguio, CenterMall, Centerpoint in Marcos Highway, Maharlika and Albergo Hotel. They also confirmed that they have issued a license for an e-games operation in Tuba, Bengue, with the matter extensively discussed by members of the august body with some councilors raising the concern that the area where the e-games is located might possibly fall within the jurisdiction of the City of Baguio.
After the discussion and with all the concerns, inputs and observations gathered, Atty. Salvosa and Ms. Lorenzo of PAGCOR acquiesced agreed to look into the e-games being established in Tuba, as well as study further the status of e-Bingo operations here in the city and provide the council with the documents pertinent to the matters that were discussed.