City to regulate games of chance

BAGUIO CITY November 01 – The conduct of electronic games and other games of chance in the city will be strictly regulated once a proposed ordinance governing the operation of electronic games, bingo and other games of chance will be enacted.

Councilor Edgar M. Avila said that upon the effectivity of the measure, a special committee on games and amusement for the local legislative body shall be established and it shall be composed of 3 representatives from the majority party and or collation and 2 representatives from the minority party or coalition and the chairman shall be selected from among the members of the committee.

The council's special committee on games and amusements shall be tasked to receive and approve applications for electronic gaming and investigate complaints against erring electronic gaming establishments, particularly violations of existing regulatory ordinances and that its findings and recommendations will then be submitted to the City Legal Office and the Baguio City Police Office (BCPO) for immediate action.

Under the proposal, any person, natural or juridical, engaged in the operation of electronic games, bingo games, cockfights and other games of chance within the city is required to obtain a special permit from the local legislative body and that the permit could either be short term or fixed term. While short term permits will allow the operation of electronic bingo games and games of chance for as long as 3 days in a year, fixed term special permits will allow the regular operation of gaming establishments for 3 years.

Further, games of change, including bingo and raffle draws in carnivals or sponsored by churches and non-government organizations are limited to 14 days or 2 weeks.

Exempted from securing the permits are gaming establishments with a capital of at least P200 million as well as barangay, village and community organized bingo games with prices not exceeding P50,000.

Banned from the electronic gaming, bingo and gambling houses are minors, public officers and employees both of national and local levels, those who by request of members of the families and relatives to the 4th degree of consanguinity by letter for a ban to be implemented, those without show money of P5,000, financiers and bank rollers and other persons as may be determined from time to time by the special committee.

Avila proposed that an entrance fee of P500 shall be charged to all patrons of electronic bingo establishments, cockpits and other games of chance establishments and that the city imposed entrance fee shall be collected daily by the City Treasurer's Office and deposited to a special fund to finance the rehabilitation of gambling addicts in the city and it would likewise finance a massive information and education campaign to avert problems on gambling and a 24/7 help hotline for problem gamblers.

Violators of the proposed ordinance shall be penalized with a fine of P5,000 for the first offense and that a second offense means a 30-day suspension of operation and another P5,0000 fine while a third offense will result in the cancellation or revocation of the fixed term special permit granted to the operator.

By Dexter A. See

 
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