The gaming regulator in the Philippines has again stressed local authorities in Quezon City cannot impose an entry fee on casinos there.
“As Quezon City vice mayor Joy Belmonte continues to insist on the imposition of entrance fees to Quezon City residents who wish to play in casinos… in the area, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor) underscores several cases and provisions that cite the supremacy of national government over local government units,” the regulator said in a press statement sent to GGRAsia.
It added: “If the purpose of the imposition of entry fees is to discourage citizens to frequent gaming facilities, such practice is an obvious exercise of police power, and in fact, an encroachment on the function of a national regulatory entity… If Pagcor does not find it necessary to impose entrance fees to its clients, then Quezon City’s local government cannot supersede this even if it claims that the imposition of entry fees is only applicable to their constituents.”
Pagcor directly operates a suite of state-run casinos and – as regulator – oversees several private-sector ones. Its own brand of casinos is called “Casino Filipino”.
Pagcor’s statement is the regulator’s latest response to Quezon City’s attempt to impose a local regulatory ordinance on a casino resort scheme proposed there by Bloomberry Resorts Corp. Pagcor has previously threatened to seek a temporary restraining order against the local government via the country’s courts.
In its statement, the regulator accused Quezon City authorities of wishing merely to generate additional public revenue via the imposition of a entry fee to casinos.
According to previous comments by Quezon City vice mayor Ms Belmonte, one condition under an ordinance passed by city authorities is that local residents would need to pay an entry levy to use the casino. According to the official, the restrictions on locals accessing the proposed casino in Quezon City were based on a mandate that the city’s government should “look after the welfare” of its people.
For 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.
“Pagcor, having been granted by [the Philippine] Congress… the power to regulate gambling, has the authority to determine the rules and regulations that [it] may deem fit in the regulation of the gaming industry,” said the regulator in its latest statement.
The statemen added: “If the local government of Quezon City believes that [imposing an entry levy] is tantamount only to ‘safeguarding the welfare of their people’, why did it grant so many Letters of No Objection and Resolutions of No Objection to bingo and other electronic gaming sites in Quezon City?”
According to Pagcor, there were 63 bingo sites and 34 eGames gaming sites in Quezon City as of the end of February.
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.
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