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PIA Press Release

DILG to review STL operation in Bicol

Legazpi City (29 July) -- The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in Bicol said they would review the legality and operation of the Meriedien Vista Gaming Corp. (MVGC) a franchise holder of a Small Town Lottery (STL) of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) operating the provinces of Albay, Sorsogon, Camarines Sur and Camarines Norte.

The review was prompted by DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo marching order to stump out illegal gambling activities in the countryside specifically "Jueteng", an illegal number games that has been in operations for so many decades.

Blandino Maceda, DILG Bicol regional director, said his agency will look into the legal operation of the Meriedien following reports that the gaming outfit is reportedly operating as a Jueteng front disguise as an STL gaming outlet.

Maceda said that the agency would enforce legal and administrative sanctions once proven that the MVG C are operating under the disguise of Jueteng and violating PCSO established policies and standards.

The DILG will recommend to PNP to use its power to put an end to this illegal number games, he said.

Reports gathered revealed the Sanguniang Panalawigan of Albay, Camarines Sur and Norte and other cities, and towns has endorsed and approved the operation of Meriedien Vista Gaming Corp an online betting game with a jai-alai type of game.

Meriedien registers and operates under the rules and regulations, standards set by the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) and the Local Government Code of the Phils including the PCSO.

But reports said the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) has cancelled the permit of Meridien Vista Gaming Corporation (MVGC), a gaming company operating within the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Free Port (CSEZFP), after the Department of Justice issued an opinion against the gaming firm's holding on-line by means of a jai-alai type of gaming operation.

CEZA, a Philippines government-owned and -controlled corporation established in 1995 by virtue of Republic Act No. 7922, is in charge of developing and managing the 54,000-hectare CSEZFP, an economic and tourism hub in Sta. Ana, Cagayan province. It has powers to grant licenses for casino and gaming operations within the economic zone.

At a press conference, Dondy Bilason President of the Philippine National Police (PNP) Press Corps Bicol, told the DiLG that unlike the legitimate STL operation it draws bet collection directly from their outlets but in the case of MVGC they employ collectors popularly know as "cobrador" soliciting bets in the streets and goes house to house collecting bets.

Bilason said STL outlets issues bet receipts while MVGC collectors does not issue receipts, it only writes the bettors choice number bets in their list, saying that the procedure is similar to that of "Jueteng" operation.

He said that if indeed the game is really legal there is no need for bet collectors as the bettors will have to go to the betting stations since it is an online game.

Under the STL operation bettors have to pick two lucky numbers from numbers 1 to 38 while the Jueteng disguise as STL operates the same.

For this reason policemen are helpless in combating the illegal numbers game because they could no longer differentiate which of gaming operation is the legal one.

Maceda said that they will also review the revenue share that local government receives from the gaming firm following reports the MVGC no longer remits its rightful dividends arising from the gaming directly to the local governments.

The MVGC claims that they are directly remitting the dividends in Manila.

Reports have it that the gaming firm gives a big share directly to city and town chief executives, at the expense of the city and town coffers.

Reports said MVGC is raking tens of millions in daily draws in Bicol while hundreds of thousands in dividends are given to each local chief executive in weekly payoff.

In Albay, members of the SP are moving for the cancellation of MVGC permit to operate for the firm's failure to comply with the remittance condition as stated in the agreement.

MVGC had been operating in Albay, Camarines Sur and Camarines Norte for the past two years. (PNA Bicol/PIA) [top]

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