Atong Ang wants gaming, gambling laws fixed

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Charlie 'Atong' Ang says the PAGCOR Charter of 2008 should be amended.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) - Gaming tycoon Charlie 'Atong' Ang said Monday amendments should be made to gaming and gambling laws in the Philippines.

"Batas ang problema natin dito. Dahil sa walang malinaw na batas. Dapat magkaroon talaga. Tama yung pinag-uusapan sa Congress." Ang said in CNN Philippines' The Source.

[Translation: We have a problem with the law, because there is no clear law. And there should be [clear laws]. The Congress plenaries were right. ]

The businessman explained that despite all of his gaming businesses being above board, he still has to argue their legitimacy--to the point of filing cases in court.

"Talagang dinedemanda ko yung mga yan, kasi hindi naman ako papasok kung wala akong legality. Kapareho nung consultant ako sa Meridien, linalaban ko talaga yan," Ang noted.

[Translation: I file a case against my detractors, because I won't engage in this if I didn't know legalities. Just like when I was with Meridien, I will really fight for it.]

Ang had been subject to a number of gaming and gambling cases in the past.

He is known for his involvement in the plunder case against former president Joseph Estrada where Ang was authorized to operate the Bingo 2-Ball game in September 2000.

Ang then pleaded guilty to corruption and admitted the delivery of the P130-million excise tax for Ilocos directly to Estrada's residence in Greenhills, which aided in Estrada's ouster.

The late Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago also noted in a speech in September 2010 that Ang is one of five top jueteng operators in the country. Santiago's data claimed Ang earned at least P11.8 million pesos daily from jueteng alone.

The gambling tycoon is also known for running jai-alai in Meridien Vista Gaming Corporation, which was ordered by the Court of Appeals to cease operations after reports of massive fiscal losses in the small lotteries of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes' Office in North Cagayan.

In 2011, his spokesperson Raul Banderas said that Ang did not own Meridien Vista Gaming, and that any attempts to do so are "tainted with malicious intent".

Amend PAGCOR charter for easier business

Ang describes having gaming and gambling businesses in the Philippines as easy, except the laws pave way for corruption.

"Hetong presidente natin ngayon, desididong linisin. Ang problema, yung mga linagay niyang tao diyan -- sorry, Mr. President -- ang dami ring makapal ang mukha e," Ang explained in The Source.

[Translation: Our president now, decidedly wants to clean (the system). The problem is, his appointees-sorry, Mr. President-many of them are shameless.]

When asked where the corrupt officials are located, Ang said, "Sa baba lahat ngayon, grabe."

[Translation: In the lower ranks.]

Then, he clarified, "Immigration."

The Bureau of Immigration is currently involved in a corruption scandal, after an illegal online betting operation was busted last November, leading to the arrest of more than 1,300 illegal Chinese workers.

Read: Disgraced immigration commissioners accepted bribe from gaming tycoon: Senator Gordon

Jack Lam, Ang's business partner, was the owner of the business process outsourcing facility where the workers were detained.

However, Ang notes that he and Lam had nothing to do with Senate allegations of extortion and bribery related to the workers, but their businesses were still shut down by authorities.

"Saan ka nakakita, meron kaming investment na 38 billion, pina-cancel ng PAGCOR. Pinasara, wala man lang sinabing 'May violation ka.' Di ba pagka-may sinara, dapat may notice ka muna bago isara," Ang noted.

[Translation: Where would you see anything like this, you have a 38-billion investment cancelled by PAGCOR. Closed down, without warning of a violation. Isn't it that when you order a company shut down, there's prior notice?]

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) is the agency that authorizes operations and licensing of gaming clubs, and casinos.

As per the PAGCOR Charter of 2008, the group is entitled to carry out any contracts of any nature with gaming companies it deems fit.

PAGCOR, headed by Arnelli Ignacio, said in January the company is expected to bring in more than P5 billion to the President's sociocivic fund this year.

Online gaming will also be regulated by the newly launched Philippine Online Gaming Operations (POGO), expected to bring in P8 billion from 35 licensed online gaming corporations.

Read: Ignacio: PAGCOR eyes larger contribution to President's sociocivic fund in 2017

"Dapat i-amend ang Charter na kung may PAGCOR man, i-amend ang PAGCOR. Or mag-create ng isang body na mag-control talaga ng sugal. Tapos mag-percentage na lang ang gobyerno (ng kinikita)," Ang noted.

[Translation: We should amend the charter-that if PAGCOR is still there, we amend PAGCOR. Or we create a body that controls gambling, and have the government get a percentage (of its revenue).]