|Online gambling in the Philippines is at risk in the ongoing battle between Sports and Games Entertainment Corp. (SAGE) and the country’s Supreme Court. SAGE has asked the court to reverse its ruling that negated the authority of Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) to operate sports betting kiosks and Internet gambling. SAGE had an agreement with Pagcor to operate the Internet gambling and the kiosks, but whether this was a sub-contract or a license is one of the key issues. |
SAGE said that the Court was wrong to withdraw the authority granted by Pagcor to SAGE in 1998 without looking into the nature of the agreement “which is in accord with the conferred powers to Pagcor by virtue of Presidential Decree 1869.
SAGE said it has already spent P500 million on equipment and hardware and software for the network. The company said that should the Supreme Court refuse to reconsider its previous ruling, foreign suppliers, investors and over 350 employees would lose out.
SAGE said the Court was wrong in its conclusion that Pagcor “shared” its franchise when it allowed SAGE to operate gaming on the Internet. It argues also that Pagcor is authorized under Presidential Decree 1869 to make such agreements, and that there is nothing in its charter to prohibit this.
SAGE added that the agreement had clearance from the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel and approval of the Office of the President. Pagcor is still legally the operator, SAGE said.
Should the Supreme Courts decision to withdraw Pacgor’s authority to make such agreements, it would create a precedent with Pacgor already having issued grants of authority to other sports betting and online gaming groups.
The Court ruled that the grant of authority that Pagcor issued to SAGE effectively gave SAGE the opportunity to “actively participate, partake and share” Pagcor’s franchise to operate gambling activity” which is in violation of its charter.
The Court emphasized that the Pagcor’s franchise is valid only for Pagcor.
The case began with a petition filed by Sen. Robert Jaworski Sr., chair of the Senate Committee on Games, Amusement and Sports, in 2001, seeking to declare null and void the grant of authority by Pagcor in favor of SAGE.