PEZA seeks govt guidance on online gaming locators

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THE Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) is seeking guidance from the government on the granting of permits to locate for online gaming in light of Executive Order No. 13, which seeks to intensify the government’s campaign against illegal gambling.

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“I went to Malacanang recently to seek guidance, because we’re talking here of three applicants to our economic zone buildings–PEZA accredited buildings,” PEZA Director General Charito Plaza said on June 8.

“We will be giving them permit[s]to locate in the PEZA buildings provided they fall under Executive Order 13 as legal entities to operate online gambling,” she added.

EO 13 orders the Philippine National Police, National Bureau of Investigation, Department of Justice,
Department of the Interior and Local Government, and the Department of Information and Communications
Technology to work together and intensify their efforts in curbing illegal gambling.

The three applicants for online gaming in PEZA-accredited buildings are the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), Aurora Pacific Ecozone (Apeco) and Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA), Plaza said.

Among three, Plaza said that Pagcor was qualified, but added that, “This is not a mandate of PEZA, we only accredit the business process outsourcing [BPOs] firms and non-gambling BPOs. But we discovered recently that some of our BPOs are giving support services to online gambling [firms]like payroll, auditing, etc.”

“But because of the request of Malacanang to allow them in our buildings, we will be giving them permits to locate in the PEZA buildings provided they fall under EO 13,” the PEZA chief said.

“It is going to be a political decision…While we want to support President Rodrigo Duterte’s program to legalize online gaming, let us put it properly and orderly as to who among them [the three applicants]will we really allow,” Plaza added.

In April, the Office of the President requested PEZA to legalize the online gambling.

Plaza said, however, that during PEZA’s last board meeting, “we decided not to allow it because gambling is not a mandate of PEZA, only those legit BPOs.”

In 2016, after being accused of bribery for granting gaming licenses, PEZA said that only state-owned Pagcor had the authority to grant e-gaming franchises.

There are 100-plus locators engaged in online gaming. Some of them are occupying PEZA-accredited buildings, and Plaza said it was the building owners that allowed them to locate in those buildings on the assumption that CEZA and Apeco were under PEZA.

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