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The Games and Amusement Board (GAB), headed by Chairman Abraham Kahlil B. Mitra, will continue to flex its muscle in its continuing war against illegal gambling.
This was stressed by Mitra himself as he stepped up his campaign to protect the integrity of professional sports with the creation of a strong anti-gambling arm which will go after illegal activities.
“We want a muscular anti-illegal gambling arm at the GAB this year to protect the integrity of professional sports and collect revenues for the government,” said Mitra during the monthly “Usapang Sports” with TOPS (Tabloid Organization in Philippine Sports) at the GAB office in Makati.
Mitra, who served both as congressman and governor of Palawan before being appointed to the goverment regulatory agency in 2016, said House Bill No. 4843 authored by Cong. Winnie Castelo and Rep. Rodel Batocabe seeking to give additional power to GAB has already been passed.
The 48-year-old GAB chairnan said the bill will now be submitted to the plenary.
“Gambling syndicates are stealing government money. It destroys fan support and drives away commercial sponsors in sports tainted with illegal betting and game-fixing,” explained Mitra, whose agency was honored by the World Boxing Council (WBC) with the prestigious “Commission of the Year” award during its 55th Convention held in Baku, Azerbaijan last year.
“Anti-illegal gambling is crucial in our mandate to regulate professional sports,” added Mitra.
Last year, Mitra revealed that GAB has arrested syndicate members and confiscated gambling paraphernalia and cash.
“We had complete surveillance and intelligence work so we caught them in the act. The National Bureau of Investigation Anti-Organized and Transnational Crime Division (AOTCD) assisted us.”
But Mitra admitted there is plenty of work to do.
“Until now, the guerrilla type of illegal betting is the norm, but, illegal gambling especially betting, are transferring to posh establishments. The syndicates are no longer hole-in-the wall operations. There are high-stake rollers now in luxurious dens. Hindi na lang barya-barya sa mga kubol.”
Mitra said most of GAB’s operations are directed at illegal betting on horse racing, but assured everybody there are now enough efforts at detecting gambling in other sports such as professional basketball, boxing and martial arts.
Mitra added: “If we don’t stop illegal gambling, the sports could lose adherents. Some athletes eventually get wind of the brutal truth that they were sold, the game has been fixed. Many find it hard to complain or refuse to be a party to the illegal activity. Kung pumalag ang atleta, madali silang palitan. These have become open secrets but, without intense intelligence gathering, no solid case build-up, no prosecution.”
Mitra said five anti-illegal gambling operations launched last year resulted in the arrest of 22 persons, consisting of seven bet collectors; one runner; one manager; one supervisor; one personnel; and 11 bettors.
These were coordinated actions by the GAB Anti-Illegal Gambling Units with the NBI Anti – Organized and Transnational Crime Division from May to June 2017 in Manila.
The arrested individuals have been charged with violations of Presidential Decree No. 1602, amended by Republic Act No. 9287 and the penalties have been increased by R. A. No. 9286.
“Reward to informers got bigger, but we cannot depend on civilian people as bounty hunters to run after illegal gambling syndicates. Just like other crime syndicates, illegal gambling has tentacles in the justice system.”
Source: European Gaming Media and Events