Saturday, January 17, 2004

SC nullifies Pagcor online gambling contract

See Philstar Report here.

Senator Jaworski scored big points with the release of the Supreme Court decision yesterday nullifying the PAGCOR and SAGE agreement for the operation of internet gambling casinos. He argued that since the internet was invented only recently and PAGCOR's franchise was enacted in July 1983, PAGCOR's operation of a internet casino in tandem with SAGE could not have been contemplated in the franchise. The argument is as silly as a left handed hook shot from the three point lane. The basketball player turned Senator didn't know that the internet was already around as early as 1960's, although not in the grand scale prevalence that it is today.

Still, the Supreme Court managed to invalidate the PAGCOR-SAGE Agreement under the same arguments that invalidated the PAGCOR-BELLE Corporation Agreement to operate the Jai-Alai Games. Simply put, the Supreme Court ruled that the PAGCOR franchise to operate gambling casinos may not be extended to another entity, particularly a private entity.

I appreciate this point. However, what does that make of the provisions in PAGCOR's charter giving it the broad power and authority to enter into joint venture agreements with other entities? The authority to enter into joint venture agreements is all-encompassing and did not prohibit PAGCOR from entering into partnerships with a technologically capable party like SAGE. Really from a legal standpoint, the Supreme Court has been very conservative in its interpretation of the PAGCOR Charter and PAGCOR's power to enter into partnerships with the private sector.

Too bad, I was hoping that the runaway success of SAGE in the internet gambling scene would spur the growth of internet ventures by Filipinos. SAGE was a perfect experiment for Pinoy techies on how to do things right on the web, particularly in network security.

I guess the "G" word did them in. Gambling -- why is it such a polarizing word in this country? I really don't mind, especially considering that SAGE's profile of a typical online player is that of a bored housewife with the husband's gold credit card. At least, their boredom could help propel technological growth. It sounds better than gold cards being maxed out on ladies' drinks in girlie bars.

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