Philippines Senator challenges online casino’s legality
By Paul
Philippines Senator Robert Barbers last week questioned the legal status of online casino firm SAGE, saying such operators require prior congressional approval.

Barbers said he will ask the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) to clarify whether Sports and Games Entertainment, Inc. (SAGE) – which has been operating for the past two years – complied with all legal requirements.

Barbers said he had received several complaints demanding the suspension of Internet casino operations until Congress has decided if it will grant PAGCOR the necessary license to continue with the online gambling scheme.

'Whether it is played through the computer or not, as long as it is supposed to be regulated by PAGCOR, it should pass through Congress and acquire the pertinent legislative consent governing the same. But as far as I know, any form of on-line casino or electronic gambling has never been a part of our agenda in the Senate,' he said.

As chairman of the Senate committee on games, amusement and sports, Barbers said he could not recall conducting any public hearing on on-line gambling.

'If a public hearing was conducted, I would have recommended the grant of whatever franchise or permit is required if I knew from the start that it PAGCOR officials if the youth has direct access to gamble their money with them,' Barbers pointed out.

SAGE officials had earlier stated that their operation was legal since PAGCOR issued them a license to operate. But Barbers isn’t convinced that PAGCOR has the authority to grant such a license.

'Is the permit issued by PAGCOR to SAGE enough legal basis for it to maintain and operate electronic gambling?' he asked.

Barbers said he will file a Senate resolution seeking a review of PAGCOR’s powers as a government agency regulating gambling operations.

PAGCOR information officer Annalyn Villanueva said PAGCOR issued the license to SAGE to operate an online casino in 1998 but operations started only two years ago.

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