CA OKs Meridien's jai-alai games inside Cagayan ecozone

by Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 18 2012 12:33 PM | Updated as of Sep 18 2012 08:33 PM

MANILA - The Court of Appeals (CA) partially granted the motion for reconsideration (MR) filed by jai-alai betting and gaming station operator Meridien Vista Gaming Corp. (MVGC) and modified its Aug. 2011 ruling in connection with the closure order on several Meridien betting and gaming stations by the Games and Amusement Board (GAB).

In a ruling by 3-2 vote by the CA's Division of Five, penned by Associate Justice Samuel Gaerlan, Meridien is allowed to operate its betting and gaming stations within the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Free Port (CSEZFP), consistent with Meridien's franchise awarded by the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA).

The appellate court held that "the authority of the Games and Amusement Board (GAB) over the jail-alai games of the respondent does not extend inside the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Free Port." 

 "The regulatory and supervisory power of the GAB over jai-alai and other professional sports cannot extend to economic zones," the appellate court said.

 The appellate court further said it was according "judicial courtesy" to a different division hearing the legality of Meridien's off-fronton betting stations, thus, did not tackle this legal issue in its ruling.

 It may be recalled that the Dept. of Justice (DOJ) and the Dept. of Interior and Local Govt. (DILG) had issued a joint memorandum order which directed a crack down on jai-alai off-fronton betting and gaming stations. Citing Sec. 5 of Republic Act (RA) No. 954, the order stated that "Meridien can only set-up its jai-alai betting/gaming stations within the premises of the place, enclosure, or fronton where the basque pelota game is held... located within the Cagayan Freeport Zone... and nowhere else outside said fronton."

 Arrests were ordered by the two departments on personnel manning off-fronton stations.

 The appellate court, however, temporarily halted the implementation of the joint order.