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Narciso Santiago Proposes Online Casino Gaming Ban in the Philippines

On March 12th, 2009, a legislation that is similar to the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act in the US has been proposed by Narciso Santiago of the minority Alliance for Rural Concerns party. Santiago proposed that gaming on the Internet be banned, except for horse race wagering and lawful wagers made on the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office lottery and on fantasy sports league games.

The proposed bill would make it illegal for anyone to use the World Wide Web or any other interactive computer service to execute, receive or otherwise make a wager or send information that may help in executing a wager. Santiago added that no regulation for online gaming exists in the Philippines. The bill comes as a shock, as the Philippines was perceived as a gaming friendly country, when it established the government managed Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation(PAGCOR) in 1977 to manage all games of luck in the country in order to produce revenues for government social programs.

The corporation manages thirteen casinos, eight VIP clubs and three slot machines arcades in cities across the Philippines as well as 180 bingo parlors. The organization employs more than eleven thousand employees. Aside from that, the Philippines's decision to established the separate customs territory: the Cagayan Export Zone (CEZ) in 1995 to encourage local and foreign investments was also widely applauded. By law, the CEZA may manage on its own, either directly or through a subsidiary or license to other gaming groups, tourism-related activities like games, recreational and sports establishments like gaming casinos, golf courses, horse racing tracks and others under the standards of CEZA.

This meant that when their car business weakened in the late 1990's, Port Irene (functioning within CEZA boundaries) was permitted to run and offer gaming businesses and license offshore gaming organizations. In this way, Port Irene competes with PAGCOR. Santiago said that as minors browse online sites on the World Wide Web, there is a big possibility of minors being enticed to gamble because of the prizes that are awarded like cash and vacation trips. Santiago added that online gaming can also be used as a tool for money laundering.

The proposed law by Narciso Santiago recommends stiff penalties like fines equal to the total amount received as wagers. Those found violating the proposed law would be fined the equivalent of the total amount of received wagers or 200,000 pesos or imprisonment for a maximum of 4 years.


04/06/2009 19:55 PM
Davis Coulter