Bill Proposes Reorganization of Philippine Gambling Regulator’s Functions

A Philippine House lawmaker has filed a bill that calls for the reorganization of the responsibilities of the country’s main regulator that also functions as a gambling operator at present in a manner that would turn it into a “purely regulatory” entity, local media reported. Under the bill, interested gambling companies will have to obtain licenses from the Philippine Congress in order to be able to operate in the country.

House Bill 6514 was sponsored by House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez. Discussions on the bill’s contents are set to begin today in the House’s Game and Amusement Committee.

Generally speaking, the bill calls for PAGCOR (the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation) to be stripped of its functions as a gambling operator and as the regulatory body responsible for issuing licenses to gambling businesses and to be granted purely regulatory functions.

Under the Mr. Alvarez’s bill, PAGCOR will be renamed as Philippine Amusements and Gaming Authority (PAGA) and will combine in itself the regulatory functions currently exercised by the Gaming and Amusement Board, the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, as well as by a number of Philippine special economic zones. A number of the aforementioned entities will be abolished if and once the new bill takes effect.

PAGCOR/PAGA’s Functions under HB 6514

PAGA will be responsible for the regulation of the Philippine gambling industry under the above-mentioned legislative piece. Its responsibilities will include monitoring and controlling the provision of gambling services within the country’s borders, ensuring that only licensed entities are targeting local players, and protecting children and other vulnerable people from becoming victims to gambling addiction and other gambling-related harm.

The regulatory body will also have to ensure that only gambling companies that have no criminal past and are free from criminal influence are providing their services to Philippine customers. PAGA will also be the agency that will have to solve disputes between operators and their customers, and to supervise the provision of all types of gambling services.

However, PAGA will no longer be the regulatory body that will issue gambling licenses. That responsibility will be assumed by the Philippine Legislature under HB 6514. Interested gambling businesses will be required to obtain the so-called legislative franchises in order to be able to operate in the Philippines’ regulated gambling environment.

Under the bill, franchisees will have to pay a 5% tax on their gross earnings. The tax will be used for funding charitable initiatives. If HB 6514 is adopted, it will give PAGCOR’s existing licensees one year to apply for and obtain a legislative franchise from the nation’s Congress. If they fail to secure a franchise within that timeframe, their operations will become illegal.

As mentioned above, the House Game and Amusement Committee will begin holding hearings on the legislative piece as from today, November 27.

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