Fate of Philippine E-Casino Remains a Mystery

11 January 2001
Politics and gambling have long been strange bedfellows; nonetheless the two are frequently intertwined. Such is the case in the Philippines where that nation's president has been impeached and is undergoing trial by the Senate for allegedly accepting bribes related to illegal gambling operations. This highly charged atmosphere has caused problems for most legal gambling operations in the Philippines, and threatens the continued operation of SageCasino, the country's only legally licensed e-casino.

When the gambling scandal first came to light, many officials called for President Joseph Estrada's resignation. Instead of resigning, however, Estrada tried to curry favor with citizens by shutting down many legal gambling operations, including that of SageCasino.

"However, Sage is in possession of a contract with the government," pointed out Patrick Deakin, chief operating officer of SageCasino, "and in return sued Pagcor, the government regulator/operator of gambling in the Philippines. We have since won a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction enjoining PAGCOR or the government from shutting us down again. The case is currently in court."

Last month Pagcor officials asked the Philippines Supreme Court to reject a petition that asked for the abolishment of Pagcor and to subsequently invalidate any legal gambling operations, reported the Inquirer News Service. Ramon Gonzales, a former delegate to the 1971 constitutional convention, filed the petition. Although Pagcor was created by permission of Ferdinand Marcos, the late dictator, Gonzales contends that Marcos lacked the power to authorize Pagcor.

SageCasino launched its online operations in August 2000, although it's only been open for a total of four-and-a-half months thanks to temporary closures. The site has attracted 7,500 players in that time.

"We find this significant as we have not placed a single advertisement anywhere," Deakin added. "We are about to expand our operations from Manila into 15 major Philippine cities and we are considering accepting an equity partner to assist in the financing of this expansion."