Stop illegal numbers game, MVGC told by PCSO | The Fenix Files

PCSO: Operation by firm, reportedly owned by Atong Ang, outside franchise area illegal

Camarines Norte, 10 February 2017 | The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) on Tuesday directed the Meridien Vista Gaming Corp. (MVGC) to immediately stop its numbers game operations that compete with the government-sanctioned Small Town Lottery (STL) in Albay province, saying the firm was only authorized to operate in areas covered by the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (Ceza) in Cagayan province.

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“Its (MVGC) franchise is effective only in areas of Ceza,” Alexander Balutan, PCSO general manager, told the Inquirer in an interview on Tuesday.

The CEZA, a government-owned and controlled corporation, was created in 1995 through Republic Act No. 7922. It issued MVGC a license to operate inside the economic zone and free port area in Sta. Ana town in Cagayan, as one of Ceza’s investors.

MVGC is a gaming company that operates a jai alai fronton in Cagayan, and whose franchise was granted by the Ceza during the last years of the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

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Charlie Atong Ang

The company was rumored to be owned by businessman Charlie “Atong” Ang but the company has denied it. MVGC, in earlier media statements, said Ang was only an adviser during the fronton’s development stage.

In a statement, PCSO said the MVGC got a permit from the Ceza to operate jai alai and its subsidiary games. These games later mutated into a “virtual two” lottery game, the agency said.

In 2011, MVGC was able to secure a temporary restraining order from the Court of Appeals, which allowed it to operate within Ceza and, reportedly, 12 to 14 other provinces as well, including Pangasinan, Cavite, Rizal and Oriental Mindoro, PCSO said in a statement.

PCSO Chair Jose Jorge Corpuz said his agency was “deeply invested” in making STL operations in the provinces successful to fund the government’s health programs.

The PCSO’s move against MVGC came after a spokesperson for the Albay provincial police claimed in reports that the firm had secured a permit from the local government in 2008 to operate the numbers game.

“STL is the only legal numbers game in the country,” Balutan said.

He said MVGC’s operations are not authorized under the STL’s revised implementing rules and regulations.

“There are only two institutions authorized by the law to operate gaming or play lotteries: PCSO and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.,” he said.

Last week, the PCSO launched STL and introduced its 56 approved authorized agent corporations who can operate the lottery in the provinces to generate P27 billion in revenues. Only STL operators in Albay, Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur were given permits to operate in the Bicol region.

The police are conducting a crackdown on illegal gambling activities after President Duterte tasked the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to protect the government’s STL operations.

Sagip-Bayan, Inc. and VACC Camarines Norte complaint

Earlier, the Samahang Gagabay Sa Interes Ng Pagbabago Ng Bayan (SAGIP-BAYAN), Inc., and the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) Camarines Norte chapter filed their complaint dated January 18, 2017, before the office of President Rodrigo Duterte.

The complainant also called the attention of various enforcement and regulating agencies under the office of the president, such as The Anti Money Laundering Council (AMLC), Games and Amusement Board (GAB), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG); Department of Justice (DOJ); Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) to investigate, stop and indict the conspiring public officers, intermediaries and private corporation which according to Sagip-Bayan, Inc and VACC are behind the illegal gambling operations by way of utilizing the off-fronton jai-alai online betting games as disguise or front for jueteng operation in the province of Camarines Norte for almost six (6) years, since 2010 to present.

Watch out for next issue the full content of the complaint. The Fenix Files

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