In the Philippines, an anti-corruption group has filed a petition before the Supreme Court challenging the constitutional right of the Philippine Amusement And Gaming Corporation to issue online gaming licenses.

According to a report from the BusinessWorld newspaper, the 18-page lawsuit from the Union Of National Development And Good Governance Philippines is seeking an injunction against the regulator’s Philippine Offshore Gambling Operator licensing program on the grounds that the body has no legal basis to oversee such a scheme.

Online gaming activities had largely been delegated to the government-owned and controlled Cagayan Economic Zone Authority, which also manages the Cagayan Special Economic Zone And Freeport, until President Rodrigo Duterte unexpectedly directed the Philippine Amusement And Gaming Corporation to assume greater authority earlier this year. This led to the development of the Philippine Offshore Gambling Operator scheme and its issuance last week of 35 new licenses.

In its action, the Union Of National Development And Good Governance Philippines declared that the Philippine Amusement And Gaming Corporation had acted with “grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when it approved the assigned rules on offshore gaming”.

“[The Philippine Amusement And Gaming Corporation] is not authorized under its legislative franchise, [Presidential Decree of 1869], to either operate or regulate gambling on the Internet catering for foreign-based players and gamblers that are physically outside the Philippine jurisdiction,” read the petition from the Union Of National Development And Good Governance Philippines. “Therefore, the rules on offshore gaming approved and currently implemented by [the Philippine Amusement And Gaming Corporation] are null and void on the ground that [the Philippine Amusement And Gaming Corporation] is patently without jurisdiction, legislative franchise, authority or power to issue licenses for the opening, establishment, operation, regulation, control and management of online gambling as defined under the rules on offshore gaming.”

The Union Of National Development And Good Governance Philippines is led by Miguel Daniel Cruz and moreover used its suit to allege that the Philippine Amusement And Gaming Corporation is only permitted to offer online gambling services to those non-Filipino players who have “registered and established an online gaming account with the licensee”. As such, it stated that the regulator is not permitted to be involved in “games, activities, bets and players [that are located] outside of the jurisdiction of the Philippines”.

Along with the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority, the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone And Freeport processes the right to grant online gaming licenses and the Union Of National Development And Good Governance Philippines explained that the charter for the Philippine Amusement And Gaming Corporation does not give the regulator the power to intervene in licensing where another authority already exists.

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