ILLEGAL ONLINE GAMBLING IN FOR A TOIUGH TIME IN THE PHILIPPINES
National president Rodrigo Duterte has identified illegal gambling as his third priority.
Illegal online gambling operators can anticipate tougher times in the Philippines following a directive from President Rodrigo Duterte that stamping out illegal gambling is his third most important goal after illegal drugs and government corruption.
The president has started with the formation of a special task force headed by trusted Duterte lieutenant, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, who is assisted by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez.
The trio will have extensive enforcement resources at their disposal to "shake down" all forms of illegal gambling, enforce licensing and generate funds for the president's social welfare and health projects, according to local media reports.
Aguirre briefed reporters following the Cabinet meeting this week, revealing:
“After drugs and corruption, I was instructed by the President to investigate illegal gambling, small town lottery and online gambling. I’m just waiting for the EO (executive order)”.
Aguirre said that the task force was already hard at work and had almost finished with its reforms on Small Town Lottery (STL), while the executive order would outline the powers and areas to be covered by the task force in going after illegal online gaming operators.
The Justice Secretary explained that "numbers games" operators have been able to corrupt the STL operations set up by the previous administration to combat illegal numbers games.
"[STL] was supposed to kill jueteng but it has only been remitting 10 to 15 percent of what the President believes should go to the government,” Aguirre said. “What the President wants is for everything that is due to be collected. That is where he will get the money to give free medicine to Filipinos,” he said.
Aguirre said the President’s main targets were jueteng lords and masiao operators who continued to prosper despite efforts to stop their illegal operations by previous administrations.
A National Bureau of Investigation report released in 2015 revealed that STL operators have defrauded the government of at least P50 billion a year by under-declaring their sales reports; the government collected only P4.7 billion in revenues from STL in 2015.
STL plans by the Duterte administration include increasing the competition in STL by making more than the current 18 licenses available, and strengthening reporting, eliminating corruption and beefing up fee collection resources.
Aguirre said over 200 applicants made a bid for the STL franchises and he expected to announce the new and expanded list of operators by the end of January. He did not say how many franchises would be made available.