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House of Representatives Votes to Explore Possibility of Casino-Entertainment Zone in Thailand

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The House of Representatives has voted in favour of a special committee’s report in exploring the opportunity of setting up a casino-entertainment zone in Thailand. After a three-hour meeting, the report was passed with 310 votes for, and nine votes against.

The report, which was prepared by the special committee set up in December 2021, states that Bangkok, with the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) and areas within a 100-kilometre radius of Suvarnabhumi and U-Tapao airports, would be ideal hosts for a casino complex. Amenities such as five-star hotels, shopping malls, beauty and spa parlours, amusement parks, zoos, indoor and outdoor sports stadiums, as well as the casinos themselves, have been included in the proposal.

Sanhapot Suksrimuang, a committee member from the Palang Pracharath Party (PPRP), said the study took 240 days and its report was comprehensive. Pakornwut Udompipatsakul, another committee member from the Move Forward Party (MFP), added that it must be stressed the report was not tantamount to a call for the setting up of casinos.

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The MPs spent about two and a half hours making observations and suggestions before endorsing the report, which will be submitted to the government for further consideration. The eight types of gambling activities allowed by the report include online casinos, betting on the stock exchange index and foreign exchange rates, and betting on the results of international and local sporting events.

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PAGCor Says 188BET’s Return to the Philippines a Huge Vote of Confidence

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The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCor) today said that it welcomes the decision of online gaming giant 1888BET to move its operations from the Isle of Man back to the Philippines.

The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for PAGCor, Alejandro H Tengco, said 188BET’s return ‘is a huge vote of confidence for the country as a regulatory haven and this is precisely what PAGCor is working hard at’.

“188BET’s move is a very positive response to our call for gaming investors to come to the Philippines,” Tengco said. “We would like to assure 188BET and other potential investors that PAGCor shall continue to be fair to everybody and that there will be a level playing field with a predictable and dependable regulatory framework.”

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188BET announced its decision to move its operations to the Philippines earlier this week. The sports betting and casino company said that, effective March 19, its current operator, Cube Limited, will surrender its current Io MGSC licence in the Isle of Man and that 188BET will be operated by a new Philippines-based company, BestCommerce Corporation, which is licensed and regulated by PAGCor.

Tengco encouraged other investors to ride on the Philippine gaming industry’s growth momentum.

“Overall, the industry can expect sustained growth in the next five years with at least one integrated resort (IR) opening every year beginning this year in Quezon City to be followed by new IRs in Cebu, Clark and other equally strategic locations,” Tengco said.

He added that the industry can also expect PAGCor’s full decoupling from its casino operations within that time frame to become a purely regulatory entity dedicated to overseeing growth and attracting more investments.

“We shall also continue lowering our license fees and modernizing our systems to help realize our vision of making the Philippines the gold standard in gaming in the Asia-Pacific region,” Tengco said.

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188BET used to hold office in Makati but it moved out of the country during the administration of former President Rodrigo Duterte.

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PAGCOR PHOTO CONTEST DRAWS 2K EARLY REGISTRANTS IN 1ST WEEK

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THE Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) today reported a robust response to its much-anticipated annual photography contest after close to 2,000 individuals registered to join in the first five days after the contest launch on February 15.

PAGCOR Chairman and CEO Alejandro Tengco said the state gaming firm’s official website (www.pagcor.ph) also logged an 85.49% increase in page views compared to the previous week after the 2024 PAGCOR Photography Contest opened.

“We also monitored a 73.43% increase in our website users after we announced the start of the photography competition,” the PAGCOR chief said.

“We are optimistic that with the bigger cash prizes, lower age requirement and the new drone category, we will entice more professional photographers and hobbyists to join and showcase their talent in this competition,” he said.

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With this year’s theme, “Harvest Time”, the 2024 PAGCOR Photography Contest will highlight the Filipino’s strength of character, patience and hard work in the fields leading to and during the harvest season.

The contest also celebrates the dedication of farmers, fishermen and other producers whose labor ensures food security and sustenance for the nation.

“The summer months of April and May will be a colorful and festive season for the country, especially in the countryside. The fields are ripe for harvest, the trees are laden with fruits and the flowers are in full bloom,” Chairman Tengco said.

“We hope that our contest participants this year will be able to immortalize the remarkable and bountiful resources of the Philippines that some of us take for granted,” Chairman Tengco added.

PAGCOR has earmarked Php2.23 million for the competition’s cash prizes this year, demonstrating its commitment to recognize the outstanding work of Filipino photographers while promoting the country’s rich identity and traditions.

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Entries may be submitted until July 31, 2024.

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2 PEOPLE CAUGHT OPERATING ILLEGAL ONLINE GAMING SITE

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Twelve people suspected of involvement in illegal online gaming operations were arrested today, February 16, in an exclusive Parañaque City subdivision after a month-long surveillance, according to the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).

PAGCOR Chairman and CEO Alejandro H. Tengco said the arrests were made by the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) and the Anti-Cybercrime Group of the Philippine National Police (PNP) together with the PAGCOR monitoring team.

“The raiders were armed with a warrant to search, seize and examine operations of computer data against the suspects who were caught red-handed while operating the illegal online gaming platform https://www.tbb888.com or the Big Bet,” Chairman Tengco said.

The illegal gaming site has been operating games like slot machines, live casino, e-sports, among others. Authorities seized from the suspects eleven computer sets, 21 mobile phones, 2 ipads, 6 laptops and flash drives, according to the PAGCOR chief.

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Onsite examination revealed that the confiscated gadgets contain evidence of the group’s illegal online activities, said PAGCOR Senior Vice President for Security and Monitoring Cluster Raul Villanueva.

The raid was conducted inside BF Northwest Subdivision, an affluent enclave whose residents include some of the most prominent political and business leaders in Parañaque.

Mr. Villanueva said cases will be filed against the suspects before the Parañaque Regional Trial Court.

“The operation was part of our unified efforts to intensify the fight against illegal online gambling because we have a marching order from PAGCOR Chairman Alejandro Tengco to put a stop to these illegal activities,” Mr. Villanueva said.

“We will continuously collaborate with law enforcement authorities such as the PNP and even the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency to put a stop to these,” he said.

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“We advise the public to stop patronizing illegal online gaming sites and instead play on legal platforms to protect themselves. Unfortunantely, most of the victims of these illegal sites are Filipino bettors.

“We are also working closely with the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center under the Department of Information and Communications Technology because we have a lot more targets under surveillance,” he added.

According to Mr. Villanueva, close to 5,000 illegal online gaming sites were operating in the country at one time but 80% of these were already blocked.

“We need to consistently monitor and report them to authorities not only to protect the bettors but to also ensure that revenues from regulated gaming are channeled back to the government for its nation-building programs,” he said.

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