Pagcor execs under investigation; lottery delay blamed on ‘gambling lords’

pagcor-philippines-gambling-lordThe Philippines House of Representatives Committee on Games and Amusement is demanding the heads of two executives at the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) over their alleged involvement in a 2011 casino cheating scam that cost Pagcor-operated casinos P160m (US $3.7m). The scam, run by an alleged Singaporean syndicate using miniature video cameras up the cheaters’ sleeves, has prompted a congressional inquiry. At the time of the scam, Joe Tulio was GM of the Panaque casino while Rogelio J.B. Bangsil was GM at Metro Manila casinos, but both individuals have since been promoted. As reported by the Manila Standard, this ‘failing upwards’ career trajectory struck Rep. Amado Bagatsing as odd. “I don’t think that’s proper considering [the men are] under investigation [in the case].” Rep. Milagros Mitos Magsaysay put a finer point on things, asking: “Can you still trust Pagcor to a guy like JB Bangsil?”

Elsewhere in the Philippines, delays in implementing the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) Lottery ng Bayan (PLB) have prompted accusations of a conspiracy between government officials and a ‘gambling lord’. quoted Movement for Transparency in Lotto Operations (MOTLO) spokesman Edgar J. Tamayo as saying “suspicions are rife that the delay is being intentionally orchestrated by a Palace clique, in connivance with a gambling lord associated with [former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo] and a relative of a top PCSO official.” Gary Castillo, secretary at good governance advocacy group Reach for Integrity and Service Excellence, echoed Tamayo’s concerns. “If a program designed to subdue gambling lords has been inexplicably delayed for four months, it is not unreasonable to suspect that it is the gambling lords themselves exerting their influence and causing a setback.”

Finally, electronic bingo arcades are stirring up Alabama-style controversy in some Philippines towns. In the province of Davao del Sur, Digos City council members agreed to permit the Limketkai Bingo Boutique to open for business. The vote was close (7-5) but Councillor Juanito Morales won the day after suggesting the council didn’t dare block legal e-bingo when it was doing nothing to block illegal operators running ‘Last Two Digits’ (of the PCSO daily lotto draw) betting stations right out in the open. According to the Inquirer, Morales then plunged the knife a little deeper, suggesting it appeared that some local pols were abetting the illegal operators, and had even conspired to have the local police director replaced after he spearheaded a vigorous anti-gambling campaign. Good (gambling) lord…