No letup in shutdown of jai-alai bet stations | Inquirer News

No letup in shutdown of jai-alai bet stations

/ 01:52 AM October 10, 2011

Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo. INQUIRER file photo

Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo and the Games and Amusement Board (GAB) will pursue their plan to close down jai-alai off-fronton betting centers, with the exception of those inside the Cagayan freeport.

GAB Commissioner Mohammad Aquil Tamano told Robredo that the GAB had not issued Meridien Vista Gaming Corp. (MVGC) any permit to operate off-fronton and online jai-alai betting stations,  which make Meridien’s operations outside the Cagayan freeport illegal.

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The GAB also informed Robredo that last August 18, the Court of Appeals upheld GAB’s cease and desist order against Meridien’s jail-alai off-fronton betting operations.

Robredo had earlier alleged that these betting stations were owned by former presidential gambling consultant Charlie “Atong” Ang but Meridien denied this. GAB and Meridien are locked in legal battles.  The firm’s lawyers are seeking a status quo order until the rules of their operations are better clarified.

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Meridien has a permit to conduct jai-alai games inside the Cagayan export zone authority (Ceza). The games are broadcast online.

The GAB has questioned Meridien’s authority to operate betting stations outside Ceza. The Department of Interior and Local Government, on the other hand, believes that the results of Meridien’s jai-alai games are being used for other illegal numbers games like “masiao” and “jueteng.”

Meridien has put up several jai-alai betting stations in Metro Manila, western Visayas, Bicol, southern Tagalog and central and northern Luzon with business permits approved by the mayors.

Tamano reiterated that Meridien was only supposed to operate  inside the Cagayan freeport and any operations outside the zone were subject to GAB’s approval.

After it won a round at the appellate court, GAB resumed the implementation of its cease and desist order on off-fronton stations. Tamano reported 39 closure operations, the latest being on September 12.

“The GAB needs law enforcement personnel to ensure the peaceful and orderly closure of off-fronton betting stations. The cease and desist orders will be served in this manner, i.e. under the authority and generally in the presence of GAB organic personnel ably assisted by PNP personnel assigned to the GAB anti-illegal gambling unit,” Tamano told Robredo.

Earlier, Meridien president Aitor Totoricaguena denounced Robredo for summarily ordering the closure of all jai-alai betting centers outside the Cagayan freeport.

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Totoricaguena, a Spanish national, said Meridien was a “legitimate investor” and assailed insinuations that Ang owned the firm.

He said Ang’s involvement in the gaming firm was “limited to consultancy for his expertise in the technical aspects of the game and has since ended.”

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TAGS: gambling, Games and Amusement Board, Jai-alai, Jesse Robredo, local government
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