Peza wants online gambling out of eco-zone buildings

The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) director-general Charito Plaza said the agency will ban online gambling operations inside accredited eco-zone buildings and IT parks nationwide.

Peza director-general Charito Plaza. Credit: PIA

Peza director-general Charito Plaza. Credit: PIA

Plaza said the board of directors of Peza had a consensus not to allow any online gambling operations — even for those providing mere technical support for this activity — in eco-zone buildings inside and outside Metro Manila, as online gambling is not included in the agency’s mandate.

Plaza said there are over 100 online gambling activities in Metro Manila, mostly operating in Peza-accredited buildings.

She said majority of these operators are locators of Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (Ceza) and Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport (Apeco), which are technically operating in Metro Manila since the facilities in these two investment promotion agencies (IPAs) have not yet been completed or being hosted in eco-zone buildings in the metropolis.

For instance, the data center of Ceza’s online gambling operations are hosted at the RCBC Plaza in Makati City, which is a Peza-accredited IT building.

Even if the operators acquired their licenses from Pagcor, the Peza chief said they would still not allow gambling firms to operate inside Peza-accredited IT parks and buildings.

“Since Peza board does allow online gaming, the building owners should also stop allowing their lessees to occupy the accredited buildings,” Plaza said.

The official added that they will cancel the accreditation of the buildings that will still host online gambling activities after a notice has been sent to developers or building owners.

Plaza also said she does not want Peza to be tinged with scandals and anomalies involving online gambling.

In the past months, there have been cases inside state-owned economic zones of Clark Development Corporation (CDC) and the Authority of Freeport Area of Bataan (AFAB) where online gambling operations were involved.

Last year, 1,316 Chinese nationals were arrested for illegally working at Jack Lam’s online casino in Clark, Pampanga, while 55 Chinese nationals with cases of cyber fraud and illegal cyber gambling crimes were nabbed at FAB last week.

But the AFAB clarified that these 55 Chinese nationals have no criminal records in reference to the date of their hiring and arrival in the Philippines.

Meanwhile, latest report of Leechiu Property Consultants (LPC) showed that 39 percent or about 481,412 square meters of office space supply in Metro Manila are from Peza-accredited buildings.

The same report noted that online gaming industry accounts for second highest demand for office spaces this year, next only to the business process outsourcing sector which controls 38 percent of the total demand. — PNA

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