‘All sides heard in casino issue’
PROPONENTS of the proposed Quezon City Responsible Gambling Ordinance have vowed to consider the concerns of all stakeholders to fine-tune the measure and protect the people from the adverse consequences of all forms of games of chance.
In an interview, District 1 Ivy Xenia Lagman, committee on games and amusement chairperson, assured the public the measure is a “good ordinance.”
“If you would see all the provisions in the proposal, you will notice that we have make it harder for them [operators] to do business here,” she told Manila Standard.
“I don’t see any reason why some stakeholders would oppose it. We are trying to put in place very strict regulations,” Lagman added.
She clarified the measure will not only cover the operation of a casino, but also the operation of electronic games, bingo, carnivals, off-track betting stations, cockfighting and other gambling establishments.
“Here in Quezon City, it is not that easy to get a permit to operate. In other cities and municipalities, only a letter of no objection without regulations is needed,” she said.
In a letter, Daniel King, president of the Quezon City Association of Filipino-Chinese Businessmen Inc., told Lagman the group “fully supports in ‘toto’ this laudable ordinance.”
“Gambling has always had a negative impact on family values, society and other businesses. We believe that if enacted this ordinance, will discourage and decrease the proliferation of gambling operations, and will become a model and a beacon to other cities in our country,” the QCAFCBI read.
According to the Principals and Supervisors Association of Quezon City Inc., headed by Lagro High School principal Dr. Maria Noemi Moncada, “gambling is one of the most addictive activities out there because of the greed involved with the activity... who doesn’t want money without having to work for it?
“Also, gambling is about escapism from reality so many people go to gambling, for long periods of time, to escape their stress or troubled times,” the group added.
“Gambling also ruins families, relationships [and] lives, [and] cripples people’s finances and potentially homes. Gambling should be treated the same as alcohol and cigarettes that are removed from being advertised,” Moncada’s letter to Lagman read.
She said operators must be required to “do everything within their means to ensure that underage customers are not allowed to gamble,” and that to “implement the anti-money laundering policies and procedures.”
Lagman, and Councilors Franz Pumaren (District 3), Raquel Malangen and Marvin Rillo (District 4), and Godofredo Liban II (District 2) co-authored the responsible gambling ordinance.
Casino mogul Enrique Razon, Bloomberry Resorts Corp. chairman and founder, will put up a P20-billion ($418-million) hotel and casino in a P1.9-billion, 15,676-square meter lot in Vertis North, Agham Road in mid-2018.
As far as the influential Iglesia ni Cristo is concerned, spokesperson Edwil Zabala said there was no such a thing as responsible gambling. “He wanted us to change the responsible gambling terms into a different one,” Lagman said.
“We are amenable to INC’s suggestion,” she added.
On Aug. 1, the committee on amusement and games ended its final public hearing to get the inputs of different stakeholders.
A committee hearing is set on Friday to integrate positive recommendations to ensure the inclusion of the measure’s strict provisions, Lagman said.