PAGCOR has jurisdiction for offshore gaming operations

Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) chair Andrea Domingo on Friday stressed that agency has been functioning within the bounds of its Charter to operate, authorize and license games of chance, games of cards, and games of numbers in the Philippines.

This was in reaction to some organizations who filed petition before the Supreme Court to nullify the regulation issued by the PAGCOR with regards to the grant of offshore gaming licenses.

Domingo said that gaming or gambling, as defined, is "a game of scheme, whether upon chance or skills wherein wagers consisting of money or articles of value or representative of value are made."

"Based on this definition, the situs of the player is immaterial. Hence, as long as the game is produced and its operation managed within the Philippine territory, it falls within PAGCOR's jurisdiction. The Philippine Offshore Gaming Operation (POGO) rules, precisely was issued to regulate online gaming being produced in the Philippines despite being streamed abroad," Domingo said in a statement.

"If we are to agree with their proposition that PAGCOR is bereft of regulatory authority over these online gaming operators, then who has the authority to regulate online games in the Philippines? Would it be the recipient countries or the Philippine economic zones granted by law to issue gaming licenses who should regulate? Following their own argument, the recipient countries and economic zones, obviously cannot exercise their authorities outside of their own territorial jurisdictions," she explained.

She added that with the launch of POGO, PAGCOR has already collected Php936 million from the application and processing fees alone which excludes the gaming taxes to be paid in the coming months.

Domingo noted that considering that PAGCOR remits more or less 72 percent of its gross revenues to the government and its mandated beneficiaries, the revenues that will be generated from POGO will certainly help PAGCOR in further fulfilling its role as the government's partner in nation-building.

Last December 7, the Union for National Development and Good Governance-Philippines (UNLAD-Philippines), an anti-corruption watchdog, asked the Supreme Court to stop PAGCOR from implementing its rules that allow the State gaming agency to issue offshore gaming licenses either to Philippine or offshore-based operators.

In an 18-page petition for certiorari, UNLAD through its chairman, Miguel Daniel Cruz, asked the SC to declare as unconstitutional the "Rules and Regulations for Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations" issued by the PAGCOR Board headed by its chair Andrea Domingo and to immediately restrain the latter from implementing the assailed rules on offshore gaming by issuing a temporary restraining order.

Cruz also said that PAGCOR had no power to license and regulate offshore gaming operations and other similar gaming activities.

The petitioner said PAGCOR acted with grave abuse of discretion when it approved the rules on offshore gaming without any legal basis since its legislative franchise is clear that it is not to operate or regulate offshore gaming.

Source: Philippines News Agency