Draft QC ordinance seeks to curb gambling addiction
In a move intended to curb addiction to gambling, a proposed Quezon City ordinance imposes a “fee” on residents who wish to play inside gaming establishments in the city for 24 hours straight.
Now the subject of public hearings in the city council, the measure aims to keep residents from developing a vice that could ruin their lives and that of their families, according to Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte.
To be called “Responsible Gambling Ordinance of 2017” once approved, it is seen as a proactive step addressing issues linked to “problem gambling.”
According to the draft ordinance, a “responsible gambling fee” of P1,500 would be charged per Quezon City resident who would like to spend 24 hours nonstop inside these establishments. For those with annual memberships, the fee would be P30,000.
The fee does not apply to nonresidents who wish to gamble in the city, which currently hosts more than 60 gaming establishments, mostly e-gaming shops and off-track betting stations, which contributed about P11 million to the local economy in 2016.
Belmonte, who found the amount “negligible,” said the measure seeks to address the “social cost” of gambling in anticipation of casino investors who may be considering Quezon City as their next location to cater to a market in the northern section of Metro Manila.
Most of the casinos in the capital are currently located in the south, particularly in Pasay City.
The measure is expected to strengthen existing regulations set by a 2014 ordinance, which covers the operation of bingo and e-games in the city.
It also calls for the creation of an advisory council that would monitor compliance, to be composed of the mayor, the vice mayor and various department heads.
Councilor Ivy Lagman, one of the authors of the ordinance, said all the collected fees would go into a special fund for local government projects and campaigns cautioning residents about gambling. These include the setup of a 24/7 help line for gambling addicts.
“We basically want to create a balance,” Lagman said. “While [these establishments] may bring benefits, we also want to protect our residents and have less problems for the local government.”
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