Tight gambling regulations in Baguio sought

BAGUIO City Councilor Edgar Avila is moving to regulate gambling establishments in the city.

Avila admitted government-backed gambling could not be stopped “No government can totally eradicate gambling, the best option is proper regulation, while the PAGCOR Charter allows E-games, the legal e-gaming operators must be subjected to close scrutiny and control by the City of Baguio.”

The proposed ordinance establishes a “Code of Practice for Responsible Gambling” with penalties for violations.

Avila said, “The inevitable reality is that the E-Games as sanctioned by PAGCOR could not be legally stopped because of earlier precedence which ripened into a property right for the operators in the City of Baguio.”

In the new law, special permits are to be required for e-casinos, e-bingo, cockfights, online sports betting, e-games, and the like. Application procedures are detailed and more stringent to discourage new operators to come to the City of Baguio.

Avila said “All is not lost however because the Government of Baguio in the exercise of its police power can regulate and govern the operation of the establishments operating Pagcor-sanctioned games. This would not usurp but complement Pagcor’S regulatory authority at the national level.”

The new law if approved creates a special committee on games and amusement tasked to receive and approve applications for e-gaming and investigates complaints against an e-gaming establishment, particularly violations of the regulatory ordinance. Its findings and recommendations will then be submitted to the City Legal Office and the PNP-BCPO for appropriate action.

Avila said the new committee when formed and functional “Has the power to thumb down immediately additional applications for e-games.”

Under the Avila law exemptions for establishments wanting to operate with capital of at least Two Hundred (P200) Million as well as barangay (village) and community-organized bingo games with prizes not exceeding fifty thousand (P50,000) pesos will have to get special permits from the city.

An entrance fee of P500.00 shall be charged to all patrons of e-bingo establishments, cockpits, and other games of chance establishments, the city imposed entrance fee shall be collected daily by the City Treasurers Office and deposited to a Special Fund to finance the rehabilitation of gambling addicts in the City.

“It [the money] will be in a special fund to rehabilitate addicts; also used in educational and information campaign against gambling” .

The special committee formed will be composed of three representatives from the majority party or coalition and two representatives from the minority party or coalition. The Chairman shall be selected from among the members of said special committee.

Avila said “Sterner regulation is needed to ensure everyone’s compliance for a level playing field. E-gambling debases neighborhood, leaves problem gamblers unaided, and deprives government of revenues. It breeds corruption, tax evasion, and serious crimes.”

Minors, Public Officers, employees both of local and national level, Those by request of members of their families and relatives to the 4th degree of consanguinity by letter for a ban to be implemented, Those without show money of P5,000, Financers and bank rollers, Other persons as may be determined from time to time by the SP through its special committee are banned gambling establishments.
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