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PAGCOR Press Statement on Quezon City’s insistence to impose casino entry fees

George Miller

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PAGCOR Press Statement on Quezon City's insistence to impose casino entry fees
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As Quezon City Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte continues to insist on the imposition of entrance fees to Quezon City residents who wish to play in casinos and other gambling facility in the area, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) underscores several cases and provisions that cite the supremacy of national government over local government units.

First, in “Basco vs. PAGCOR (1991)”, wherein the City of Manila filed a case seeking to annul the PAGCOR charter, the court ruled that Presidential Decree (P.D.) 1869 waived the right of the city to impose taxes and fees. The court decision cited that the power of the local government to impose taxes and fees “is always subject to limitations which Congress may provide by law.”

It furthered that P.D. 1869 remains an operative law, until amended or repealed.

Another case, “City of Cagayan de Oro vs. Pryce and PAGCOR (1994)”, cited that ordinances should not contravene a statute that is obvious. It stated that “municipal governments are only agents of the national government; and local councils exercise only delegated legislative powers from Congress as the national law-making body.” Hence, local government units cannot be superior to Congress from which they derive their powers.

The third case, “Herbert Bautista vs. PAGCOR (2016)”, cited that under its Charter, PAGCOR and its agents are exempted from paying local taxes as P.D. 1869 Section 13 provides that “no tax of any kind or form, income or otherwise, as well as fees, charges or levies of whatever nature, whether national or local, shall be assessed and collected under this Franchise from the Corporation nor shall any form of tax or charge attach in any way to the earnings of the Corporation, except a franchise tax of five percent of the gross revenue or earnings derived by the Corporation from its operation under this franchise.”

The entry fees on the city residents who will enter the casino which the Quezon City local government is contemplating imposing takes the form of “tax” because of its nature to generate revenues. If you are not inclined to pay a tax you can play casino games like BlackJack, Roulette Online or Poker.

However, if the purpose of the imposition of entry fees is to discourage citizens to frequent gaming facilities, such practice is an obvious exercise of police power, and in fact, an encroachment on the function of a national regulatory entity.

PAGCOR, having been granted by Congress with the power to regulate gambling, has the authority to determine the rules and regulations that may deem fit in the regulation of the gaming industry.

If PAGCOR does not find it necessary to impose entrance fees to its clients, then Quezon City’s local government cannot supersede this even if it claims that the imposition of entry fees is only applicable to their constituents.

Besides, if the local government of Quezon City believes that doing such is tantamount only to “safeguarding the welfare of their people”, why did it grant so many Letters of No Objection (LONOs) and Resolutions of No Objection (RONOs) to bingo and other electronic gaming sites in Quezon City?

As of February 28, 2019, there are 97 electronic gaming sites in Quezon City. Of this number, 63 are bingo sites and 34 are eGames gaming sites. This figure does not include the LONO and RONO granted by Quezon City government to Solaire Resort and Casino.

Asia

Kazakh President Signs Amendments to Law on Gambling Industry

Niji Narayan

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Kazakh President Signs Amendments to Law on Gambling Industry
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Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has signed the law “On Amendments and Additions to Certain Legislative Acts of the Republic of Kazakhstan on Gambling.” Bookmakers will be moved to Kapshagay and Schuchinsk gambling zones.

Earlier it was reported that the government of Kazakhstan wanted to create three new game zones in the country, however, deputies of the Parliament abandoned this idea and excluded this rule from the draft law. Now all bookmakers will be moved to the two existing gaming zones – Kapshagay and Schuchinsk.

In order to have information about the players, they will create a unified betting centre in the country and the player’s relatives will be able to limit the right to place bets appealing to court. All bets received by the bookmaker in cash or through electronic payment systems should be accounted in a single monitoring centre.

A single accounting of all payments received by the bookmakers will eliminate the shadow turnover, increase tax collection and simplify control. A database of players will contribute to the introduction of universal declaration, the introduction of a procedure for limiting and self-restricting a client from betting and will also strengthen measures to fight money laundering related to crime and the financing of terrorism.

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Asia

Philippines Continues Chasing POGOs Despite Reports of Closures

Niji Narayan

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Philippines Continues Chasing POGOs Despite Reports of Closures
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The Philippine government has said that it will not be easing up on its pursuit of outstanding taxes from Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) despite revelations that some of them had shut down and left the country.

As per reports, two licensed POGO operators and several service providers have closed operations due to stringent tax rules imposed by the Bureau of Internal Revenue and statements from gaming regulator PAGCOR that no POGO would be allowed to resume post-COVID until all liabilities were paid.

PAGCOR Chairman and CEO Andrea Domingo named Suncity Group and Don Tencess Asian Solutions as the two POGOs to have left, although Suncity denied this was the case when contacted by Inside Asian Gaming.

“Suncity Group spares no effort to develop itself as a global integrated VIP entertainment conglomerate. The junket business in Manila is definitely important to us and we can’t find any reason to leave Manila at this particular moment,” the company said.

“In regards to the comment provided by Mdm Andrea Domingo, we think she is referring to telebetting services, which has nothing to do with the junket business that Suncity Group operates in Manila. We will continue to develop our VIP entertainment business in licensed gaming operators in Manila, and provide seamless VIP services to our guests,” Suncity said.

Nevertheless, the authorities insisted that they will continue to crack down on POGOs.

“I think Secretary Dominguez will not budge from the position that they need to pay all their taxes, including the franchise tax,” said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, referencing Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III.

“Now, although the President has said we need all the resources, all the revenues that we can derive from all, including POGO operations to fund Covid-19 response of the government, I think the bottom line is they have to settle their tax obligations,” Harry Roque said.

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Asia

Booongo expands in Asia with Flow Gaming partnership

George Miller

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Booongo expands in Asia with Flow Gaming partnership
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Company’s slots portfolio made available through platform provider

Slots developer Booongo has strengthened its position in Asia after securing a new partnership with platform provider Flow Gaming.

As part of a content distribution agreement, Booongo will integrate its fast-expanding games portfolio onto Flow Gaming’s platform.

The deal significantly enhances the platform provider’s content offering, with the developer’s top performing games including Tiger Pearls, Great Panda and Aztec Sun all being made available to Flow’s extensive operator network and their players.

Booongo’s games are enjoyed by players across Asia and this latest launch further extends the company’s presence within the territory.

Sebastian Damian, Commercial Director at Booongo, said: “We’re well aware of Flow Gaming’s popularity in the Asian market and signing this deal is an exciting move for Booongo.

“Integrating our games onto the Flow Gaming platform ensures that we take our market presence in Asia to the next level.”

Peter van Tuyl, COO at Flow Gaming, said: “We know the importance of nurturing strategic relationships to enhance our platform offering, which is why we’ve partnered with Booongo.

“Booongo’s games are of a high quality and are appreciated by players across the globe. We’re looking forward to offering the developer’s content to our operator partners over the coming months.”

 

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