MANILA (Mabuhay) — To serve as deterrent for local patrons from entering gambling casinos, a lawmaker has proposed the imposition of a Php 3,500 entrance fee for all Filipino residents who patronize casinos.
Rep. Peter Unabia (1st District, Misamis Oriental) said his proposal as embodied in House Bill No. 4859 will prevent financially inadequate persons from entering gambling casinos.
The bill amends Presidential Decree No. 1869, as amended, otherwise known as “Consolidating and Amending Presidential Decree Nos. 1067-A, 1067-B, 1067-C, 1399 and 1632, Relative to the Franchise and Powers of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).”
Unabia said the charter of PAGCOR yields no requirement of an entry fee for anyone who wants to play in the casino.
However, Section 14 (3) (b) of PD 1869 states that a resident must have a gross income of at least Php 50,000 for the previous year, as certified by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), in order to be allowed to play, Unabia noted.
“In reality, however, this requirement is neither observed nor imposed,” he stressed.
Unabia said PAGCOR has been implementing their built-in controls such as the issuance of player tracking system (PTS) cards or loyalty cards for casino patrons; betting at minimum bets of Php 500 in a single play for baccarat tables and establishment of casinos in locations where financially inadequate individuals cannot enter, including luxury resorts and 3-star hotels at the minimum.
Unabia said addressing poverty has always been a challenge to the government. What is more worrisome is that many Filipinos want to gamble instead of doing something more concrete to improve their lives other than waging hard-earned money in gambling, particularly, in casinos, he added.
“The imposition of an entrance fee will discourage the locals from gambling in casinos,” Unabia said.
Unabia said the amount realized in requiring entrance fees will serve as additional revenues for the socio-civic programs of the government as mandated by PD 1869.
Unabia said some countries have already adopted policies as deterrents to their locals from patronizing casinos.
He said in Singapore, the government decided to prohibit the entry in casinos by the unemployed, people on welfare and people who have filed for bankruptcy protection. Its government obliges all permanent residents to pay $ 100 (Singapore dollars) as entrance levy.
Unabia also cited Monaco wherein local residents are not allowed entry at all while foreigners who enter casinos are charged entrance fees. In India, local patrons are charged with 200 rupees as an entrance fee.
Under the measure, Section 14 (3) (b) of PD No. 1869 is amended to include the imposition of an entrance fee of Php 3,500 paid upon entry to the casino.
The Corporation is authorized to increase the entrance fee as required every five years after the effectivity of the Act.
The bill also proposed to limit to only two guests those allowed entry into the casino provided that the said guests are residents of the Philippines and shall also pay the entrance fee required. (MNS)