Valenzuela City bans POGOs and suspends applications for further gambling operations

Following a press conference held on 4 July, all forms of unauthorised gambling in the jurisdiction now carry the weight of heavy fines and jail time.

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Members of the Valenzuela City Council have voted to ban Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGO) and temporarily halt all applications of Small Town Lotteries (STL) and other online gambling operations.

Those in attendance included Mayor Wes Gatchalian, Vice Mayor Lorie Natividad-Borja and 1st District City Councilor Ricar Enriquez.

A total of three ordinances were passed during the meeting, in an effort to address the issues presented by illegal gambling activities.

Ordinance No. 1105 will prohibit all POGOs from operating within the Valenzuela territorial jurisdiction.

Those who are found violating this ordinance will be fined up to ₱300,000 ($5,431) and imprisoned for up to a year.

Ordinance No. 1107 will temporarily ban new applications of online gambling and Small Town Lotteries, for a total of five years, while the city reviews its zoning ordinance.

It’s believed that existing businesses will be able to continue their operations.

In a statement, Gatchalian said: “It has been my priority to pass this ordinance since I became the mayor last year, we just needed some time to study everything, especially POGO, since POGO is a program of PAGCOR while STL is a program of PCSO.

“Our Legal Department just needed some time to analyze this because we do not want to go against national agencies.

“We all know that gambling can destroy the lives of the people. We do not condone gambling here in the City.”

However, Ordinance No. 1108 prevents all persons from participating in any illegal or unauthorised activities.

Individuals who violate this will be fined up to ₱5,000, while organisers could be fined up to ₱50,000 and be imprisoned for up to a year.

This presents a unique problem, as the widely-preserved tradition of Sakla is a home-based gambling game held in the wake of the dead.

The card game uses a rake from bets to fund burial services and support the family following the person's death.

To tackle this, Gatchalian has stated that the city will contribute a minimum of ₱7,000 towards funeral costs for residents of the city.

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