Cagayan Economic Zone Authority Halts Suspicious Activity

Published Wednesday, April 01, 2009 -

A communication from the Administrator and chief executive officer Jose Mari Ponce of the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority to the Meridien Vista Gaming Corporation online gambling firm stated, "stop all gaming operations including testing of software and telecommunication infrastructures."

The Cagayan Economic Zone in the Philippines is the largest province in the country and the only one where online gambling operations are permitted. MVGC president Aitor Araña Totricabuena received the news recently via letter that has finally ordered the complete stoppage of the companies controversial operations.

The Cagayan Economic Zone Authority earlier authorized the company to set up and establish jai-alai kiosks and other support service facilities within the zone including telecommunications for use by the firm for its online betting activities. Meridien Vista Gaming Corporation was given a license to operate anywhere within the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport (CSEZFP) in Sta. Ana, Cagayan "and in any place as may be allowed by law. ..."

The Office of Government-owned and Controlled Corporations (OGCC) overturned the permitted operations "regarding the operation and licensing of jai-alai, which was the basis of CEZA approval of MVGCs operation."

Anti-gambling advocates in the province also believed that the company has abused the privilege vested on it by operating well outside their supposed jurisdiction.

Concerned citizens reported that wagers were supposed to be placed in betting stations but collectors roam around some towns including capital Bayombong and Solano where betting are done jueteng-style.
Bet collectors said that local handlers of the company have told them that their operation was completely legitimate.

After weeks of debates over the gaming firm's legitimacy, sources revealed that MVGC has also operated in the Camarines provinces where raids were executed by the local police armed with search warrants.

Senior Provincial Board Member Patricio Dumlao confirmed that MVGCs operations were illegal even if municipal permits were issued to them. Nueva Vizcaya and Isabela were trial areas where the company continued to operate before the cease operations order came down.

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