PCSO to police: Arrest Meridien bet collectors

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THE Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) called on the police to arrest bet collectors of Meridien Vista Gaming Corp. (MVGC) which it accused of illegally operating jai-alai in Cagayan Valley.

At the consultative meeting with local government executives and officials of the Philippine National Police on the Small Town Lottery (STL), PCSO General Manager Alexander Balutan said the agency is bent on implementing President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to eliminate all forms of illegal gambling.

“Let’s be frank. These illegal numbers games continue to thrive in provinces where some police officers and local officials coddle gambling financiers,” Balutan said as he appealed to government officials and the police to support the President in his desire to gather more charity funds to be used in buying more medicines for the poor.

Bam Urubio, who was appointed by PCSO chairman Jorge Corpuz as the national coordinator of STL, said that the operation of MVGC outside the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) is illegal.

MVGC, which is reportedly being run by gambling operator Charlie “Atong” Ang, has a permit to operate jai-alai fronton from the CEZA but it was learned that bets are also being collected for a different kind of illegal numbers game.

Urubio said that if Meridien is really operating jai-alai which is played by only 10 pelotaris, the two-number combination should only be from one to 10. But it was learned that bet collectors have been accepting bets with combinations from one to 38 and in some areas, one to 40.

Furthermore, jai-alai is being played twice a week and only one game is played per day but MVGC issues winning combinations thrice a day.

“Where are they getting their results? There is no doubt jai-alai bet stations and collection of MVCG are illegal,” Urubio said.

“Cagayan is the haven of Meridian and I think the operation should first stop there,” he added.

Police and some local government units were hesitant in arresting Meridian bet collectors because of the temporary restraining order issued by the Supreme Court (SC) that allowed the company to continue its operations outside Ceza’s boundaries.

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