Congress tries to cut Pagcor’s licensing powers

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Credits: ABS-CBN News.

The bill wants to consolidate all regulatory functions in the gaming industry and transfer licensing powers.

Philippines.- The Party-list group One Patriotic Coalition of Marginalized Nationals (1-Pacman) is reportedly sponsoring the attempt to make the Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) a regulatory entity. The measure would transfer licensing powers and transfers the authority to the Congress.

House Bill 6111 wants to turn Pagcor into the Philippine Amusements and Gaming Authority (Paga) in order to consolidate all regulatory functions in the industry, The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported. According to the bill that was filed by Reps. Enrico Pineda and Michael Romero, Paga would be purely regulatory in nature instead of an operator of games of chance, the news outlet cited. Under the proposed bill, all gaming, casino and gambling operators have to secure legislative franchises, whilst the licensees authorised by the current laws would have a year to secure it under the bill. If they don’t comply with that time frame, operations would become illegal.

As the Inquirer said, the bill would transfer to Paga all regulatory functions that are spread among the PCSO (Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office), the Games and Amusement Board, the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (Ceza), the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport (Apeco). PCSO would turn into a charitable institution and would receive funds from sweepstake operations. GAB, on the other hand, would be abolished under HB 6111, as its functions would be fully transferred to Paga.

Furthermore, Paga would be in charge of detecting offenses, as well as receiving and managing complaints and problems between operators and patrons. Inspection of equipment would also be in charge of the new association. The entity would be governed by a five-member board of directors of more than 30 years old and two years of experience in the industry. Whilst the bill doesn’t determine term limits, it says that the director of the authority is under the consideration of the President.

The bill remarks the inconvenience of having an agency that is both a regulator and an operator of the industry that it regulates. During the last week of July, Pantaleon Alvarez, Philippines House Speaker, stated: “It does not make sense for it to regulate and operate. An entity that has this power runs the risk of dealing itself a favorable hand while undercutting others.”