February 19, 2012
PIMENTEL SEEKS STOP TO GAMBLING SPREAD
Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III has expressed alarm over an "undeniable increase" in gambling operations, both legal and illegal, in the country and wants the Senate Committee on Games and Amusement and other pertinent committees to conduct an inquiry to determine its social and economic impact on the people.
Pimentel said the investigation into the state of regulation of gambling would "ensure that the goals of minimizing the adverse effects of gambling while maximizing its benefits to the State could be realized."
He noted reports of gambling-related violence in some parts of the country which "hint of rivalries among big-time gambling operators and could lead to the deterioration of law and order."
Pimentel also warned that there has been an increase in the number of casinos and Internet gambling sites even in residential areas.
"There is a need to look into the legality of these new casinos and Internet gambling sites because these are in apparent contravention of the charter of PAGCOR, which stipulates that 'the operation of slot machines and other gambling paraphernalia and equipment, shall not be allowed in establishments open or accessible to the general public unless the site of these operations are three-star hotels and resorts accredited by the Department of Tourism authorized by the corporation and by the local government unit concerned'", Pimentel said.
The senator asked that the probe should also determine whether the casinos and Internet gambling sites are in accord with local zoning laws and comply with other legal requirements imposed by local governments on gambling operations.
"The presence of these Internet gambling sites in residential communities does not redound to the promotion of tourism as these residential areas are not tourist spots, and, instead, encourage gambling among residents where these sites are present," Pimentel said.
Presidential Decree 1869, otherwise known as the charter of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), gives to the agency the task of centralizing and regulating the operation and conduct of games of chance, "to minimize, if not totally eradicate, the evils, malpractices and corruptions that are normally prevalent in the conduct and operation of gambling clubs and casinos without direct government involvement".
PD 1869 also allows PAGCOR to operate and regulate gambling activities to generate sources of additional revenue to fund infrastructure and socio-civic projects, and provide recreation and integrated facilities which will expand and improve the country's existing tourist attractions.
The extension of the corporate life of PAGCOR through Republic Act 9487 has reiterated these goals of minimizing the adverse effects of gambling while maximizing the benefits that gambling activities could provide to the State.
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