In the Philippines, a senior federal lawmaker has reportedly proposed legislation that would drastically alter the role of the nation’s Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation by transforming the body into a ‘purely regulatory’ agency and giving its casino licensing powers to Congress.

Established in the late-1970s, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation currently owns and operates over 45 casinos throughout the Asian nation while also serving as the regulator of privately-owned casinos, bingo parlors and electronic gaming cafes. But, last year saw newly-elected President Rodrigo Duterte order the state-owned regulator to begin selling off its casino estate in order to raise funds for the government and rid the enterprise of any possible conflict of interest concerns.

According to a report from the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper, House Bill 6514 was filed as a ‘priority bill’ late last week by Pantaleon Alvarez, Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Philippines, with help from fellow legislator Juan Pablo Bondoc and is due to be considered over the course of the next seven days. If ratified, it would purportedly take away the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation’s casino licensing powers and instead require all gaming operators to secure a legislative franchise from Congress.

The newspaper reported that the proposed legislation would also give existing casinos one year to obtain such a license, which would mandate the paying of a 5% aggregated gross earnings tax, and change the name of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation to the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Authority.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that Alvarez’ legislation would additionally consign all gaming industry regulatory functions currently held by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, the Games and Amusement Board, the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office and the nation’s assortment of special economic zones, such as the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority and the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport to the newly-christened Philippine Amusement and Gaming Authority.

As such, the newspaper reported that the legislation calls for the Games and Amusement Board to be abolished while the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office is to be transformed into a ‘purely charitable institution and a recipient of the share of funds from sweepstakes operations conducted by private operators’.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that the passage of House Bill 6514 would moreover see the new Philippine Amusement and Gaming Authority tasked with the responsibility of collecting gaming taxes, closing unlicensed operations and controlling the impact of gambling on minors and vulnerable people. It would furthermore purportedly be mandated with ensuring that only those who are ‘suitable and free from criminal influence or exploitation’ are involved in the management and operation of gambling facilities.

Finally, Alvarez’ measure would reportedly give the fresh Philippine Amusement and Gaming Authority the power to hire specialized staff in order to monitor licensed casinos, inspect gaming equipment, handle player complaints and adjudicate in disputes.

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