PAGCOR to review mobile casinos

by Jing Castañeda, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 22 2010 01:16 AM | Updated as of Jul 22 2010 07:15 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The new management of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) is alarmed after learning of the proliferation of various mobile casinos in different parts of the country.

This includes the mobile casino in Olongapo City, which is housed in 10- and 20-foot container vans.

Here, Filipinos and foreigners alike can play PAGCOR E-Games like video poker, video blackjack, baccarat, and other internet card games. People can also play online slot machines.

PAGCOR said there are a total of 167 PAGCOR E-Games or internet gaming centers around the country. They will now investigate how many of these are mobile casinos.

Since the mobile casinos are housed in container vans, PAGCOR is worried that the casinos can easily be transported to different areas.

This is despite the fact that the locations of casinos are strictly regulated.

They are also worried that children could gain access to the casino.

"[Ang aim ay] maging world class, at hindi iyong parang lokasyon lamang kung saan kahit sino puwede nang maglaro [o] magsugal," Atty. Jay Santiago, PAGCOR spokesperson, said.

An e-games operator should also show proof that the community where the gaming center will be located agrees to the presence of a gambling center in their area.

"'Yong casino o 'yong mga gaming establishments, should really be just part of an attraction of a tourism facility or a tourism area. Hindi ito iyong main attraction, kung hindi isa lang sa mga attraction," he said.

This is what angers church leaders in Nueva Ecija.

They said a casino was put up in the municipality of San Leonardo without their approval.

They are now appealing to the new government to put a stop to the casino's opening.

"Farming and poultry raising mainly ang San Leonardo... iyong intended na clientele noong casino ay mainly wala - walang turista na pupunta," Cabanatuan diocese chancellor Fr. Noel Jetajobe said.

Both Malacañang and PAGCOR said they are currently studying the state of the gaming industry in the country to see how it can exist without sacrificing the people's welfare.

To this end, PAGCOR added, they are now re-evaluating the gaming licenses issued by the previous administration to make sure the interest of the people are protected.