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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

GAB declares as “illegal” operations of jai-alai off-fronton on-line betting firm Meridien

The Games and Amusement Board (GAB) has virtually declared as illegal the operations of the Meridien Vista Gaming Corporation (MVGC), saying it has not issued any permit or license to operate to the jai-alai off-fronton betting firm which is also allegedly involved in illegal gambling operations.

In response to two queries made by Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse M. Robredo, GAB Commissioner Mohammad Aquil Tamano said the DILG-PNP, with GAB as lead agency, could conduct raids against MVGC betting stations and that the DILG can issue a memorandum circular to all local government units (LGUs) that MVGC does not have the appropriate license from GAB to operate.

Tamano explained that the Court of Appeals has upheld the legality of the GAB’s cease and desist order (CDO) against MVGC’s jail-alai off-fronton betting operations via a decision dated August 18, 2011 in CA-G.R. No. 119842.

“In said decision, the CA reiterated the doctrine in the Supreme Court case of Lim vs. Pacquing recognizing the supervisory and regulatory powers of GAB over jai-alai,” Tamano told Robredo.

“Given this, we resumed the implementation of our CDO on the off-fronton stations of MVGC wherever they may be found. As of (this) writing, we have conducted 39 CDO-related operations, the latest being on September 12, 2011,” the GAB chief added.

The CDO operations against MVGC, Tamano explained, is in the nature of administrative enforcement which is the primary responsibility of the GAB.

“However, the GAB needs law enforcement personnel to ensure the peaceful and orderly closure of off-fronton betting stations. The CDOs will be served under this manner, i.e. under the authority and generally in the presence of GAB organic personnel ably assisted by PNP personnel assigned to the GAB anti-illegal gambling unit,” he said.

In reply to Robredo’s second query if the DILG can issue a memo circular to all LGUs banning or outlawing the operations of the MVGC in their localities, Tamano said the agency could do so.

“Going to your second query, the Board (GAB) has no objection to the issuance by the DILG of a memorandum circular to all LGUs advising them that GAB has not issued any permits to any off-fronton betting station of MVGC, as in fact, none has been issued,” Tamano said.

The MVGC, which is widely-believed as co-owned by former President Estrada’s gambling consultant Atong Ang, has established several jai-alai off-fronton betting stations, using business permits approved and issued by mayors, in Metro Manila, Western Visayas, Bicol Region, Southern Tagalog, and Central and Northern Luzon.

It is also supposedly allowed to operate only inside the Cagayan Export Processing Zone (CEZA), which earlier granted it permit to operate, in Cagayan province.

PNP field reports say that MVGC’s jai-alai off-fronton on-line betting stations is being used by its employees as convenient cover in illegal gambling operations, alternately using them reportedly as jueteng bet collecting office. Feliz Regis, PAO-DILG

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