NEGROS Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. said Wednesday that no one has shown him any legal papers pertaining to the jai alai operations in the province.

Marañon said the issue on the alleged operation of the number's game in the province must be brought up to the national leadership or must be legally settled in court.

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"There are confusing reports on this jai alai operation. There are those saying that it's illegal while some said that it's legal. There are those who said that the Local Government Units (LGUs) will have their shares from the proceeds of legal operation," Marañon said.

Reports have it that the operation of jai alai in the province and Bacolod City has been going on for a month already with various operators gaining from it. The reports also said that there are already rivalries among the illegal operators or (masiao) operators.

Marañon said the police should arrest those who are involved in the illegal operation of this number's game.

There are reports that a representative of Charlie Ang, a gaming consultant convicted of bribery, has been talking with local officials and gambling financiers allegedly to engage in illegal numbers racket.

Ang was a co-accused in the plunder case against ousted President Joseph Estrada. He fled to the United States but was extradited to Manila, where he pleaded guilty on a lesser offense of bribery, placed on probation and freed in June 2009 after two years in jail.

The masiao (term used for illegal operation of jai alai betting) operation in the province reportedly uses the results of jai alai games played in Sta. Ana, Cagayan and is aired over a local TV station at midnight and a cable station.

According to a Sun.Star-Bacolod source, Ang's representative has been in the province and asked local government units to pass resolutions for the setting up of frontons or betting stations for jai alai in their localities in exchange for huge amount in monthly payola.

The local operators in the province, according to the source, use the franchise obtained by Meridien Vista Gaming Corp. (MVGC) from the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) to run "virtual jai-alai games" in the meantime.

MVGC is reportedly owned by some Chinese businessmen. It has been asserting the legality of its franchise for setting up front-on and betting stations outside CEZA.

Before it became rampant in Negros Occidental, drawing jai alai bets reportedly started in Isabela, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya and Cavite. (Teresa Ellera-Dulla)