The gaming regulator in the Philippines is quoted as saying it would be a “dereliction of its duties” not to mount a legal challenge to Quezon City’s attempt to impose a local regulatory ordinance on a casino resort scheme proposed there by Bloomberry Resorts Corp.
This might involve, said the regulator, seeking a a temporary restraining order – known locally as a TRO – against the local government via the country’s courts.
Without clarifying whether efforts for such an order were already in hand, the national regulator, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor) was quoted on Thursday by the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper as saying: “With the filing of [a] TRO, we are not only upholding the rule of law but also ensuring that people’s welfare is protected and LGUs [local government units] will not be given a chance to abuse their authority.”
According to previous comments by Quezon City vice-mayor Joy Belmonte, one condition under the ordinance passed by city authorities a week ago is that local residents would need to pay an entry levy to use the casino.
According to Pagcor, at stake is whether local governments should have any say over the regulation of casinos on their patch. Pagcor is adamant they should not.
The regulator described itself – as quoted by the news outlet – as the national government agency “that has been mandated to regulate all games of chance in the country” as set out in Presidential Decree 1869 and Republic Act (RA) 9487.
Bloomberry Resorts had previously said it would break ground on the development of the Quezon City casino resort in the Vertis North Complex this year and have it completed by 2022. The development will carry the same Solaire branding as Bloomberry Resorts’ existing Metro Manila property, Solaire Resort and Casino at Entertainment City in the Paranaque City area.
The Quezon City ordinance was reportedly fashioned after measures adopted in Singapore’s casino duopoly market. Singaporean citizens or permanent residents have to pay either a daily entry levy of SGD100 (US$73.60) or an annual entry levy of SGD2,000 when entering either of the city-state’s casinos – Marina Bay Sands or Resorts World Sentosa.
In Thursday’s newspaper report, Pagcor said local governments in the Philippines had no legal power to regulate gambling.
“Given the provisions of the [local] law, it is clear that Quezon City’s proposed gaming regulatory ordinance is a violation of national law,” the Pagcor statement said.
Bloomberry Resorts said in February that two subsidiaries had agreed to take out a 10-year loan of PHP40 billion (US$765.7 million) to be spent in part on developing the casino resort.
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Chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International