Online gambling has grown into a multi-million dollar industry in the country although government-licensed operators are supposed to cater to offshore market.
However, a booming “illegal” online gambling has become a big part of this sector, operated by a well-entrenched syndicate without the necessary permits from the gambling regulatory bodies, namely the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and the Cagayan Special Economic Zone Authority (CSEZA).
This online gambling mafia is making a killing as more Filipinos get hooked on this form of online vice. Worse, it pays zero taxes the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).
I found out that much of these unlicensed online gambling operations are carried out in Clark Special Economic Zone in Angeles City and the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.
Various forms of online gambling are likewise rampant in Metro Manila.
These operations fall under the jurisdiction of PAGCOR, as do all types of gaming in the entire archipelago, except those in the Cagayan Freeport under CSEZA.
According to industry insiders, officials of the Clark Development Corporation (CDC) and Subic Bay Management Authority (SBMA) are coddling these unlicensed online gambling operators, including businessman Jack Lam.
Lam’s illegal online casinos offer the “virtual” roulette, blackjack, stud poker, slot machines and baccarat games.
Lam, who owns the Fontana Leisure & Water Park in the former US Air Base in Angeles City, has reportedly “issued sub-licenses” to Chinese and Korean nationals to operate online gambling in the said resort.
This is ridiculous because Lam, who won concessions from the Arroyo administration, is licensed for land-based casino gambling operation only.
Only PAGCOR and the CSEZA can issue licenses to online gaming operators.
Clearly, neither the CDC nor the SBMA is mandated to issue gaming licenses.
In short, Lam is engaged in illegal operations and CDC authorities are in cahoots with him.
Apparently, Lam’s activities have gained the ire of certain officials of the Bureau of Immigration (BI), as well as those of PAGCOR, as these clandestine operations involve foreigners who have no proper visas and work permits.
I do not think the BI issues visas to foreigners who operate unlicensed online gambling ventures in the country.
In fact, BI and the National Bureau of Investigation have apprehended several Chinese and Korean nationals in connection with this racket.
These agencies should closely watch Lam’s and his alien cohort’s illegal activities.
These illegal operations, which are attracting more and more local gambling aficionados, are flourishing in Clark and Subic.
Parents should not be surprised to find their kids using their credit cards to access online gambling in the so-called net cafés or Internet shops in their neighborhood.
Needless to say, their protectors at the CDC and SBMA, who are allegedly in Lam’s payroll, must be exposed.
Not only that, coddlers of this mafia gambling lord in Malacanang must also be unmasked.
Unlicensed online gambling business has also mushroomed in Metro Manila, particularly in Pasig City and Makati City.
These new breed of gambling lords in the country are smarting about the “lack of legal provisions” against online gambling.
Are they saying that PAGCOR is powerless and useless in regulating online gambling?
I dispute that notion.
If the laws of the land are “lacking” in this respect, then why have the lawmakers allowed this?
I’m sure the feisty secretary of the Justice Department, Sec. Leila Delima, will not leave any stone unturned in going after these syndicates.