First Cagayan Loses Online Licensing Monopoly

Business News

Raul Lambino says the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority has already implemented several reforms to eradicate illegal on-line gaming operations.

Since taking over the helm at CEZA in late July as administrator and chief executive, Lambino said, he had canceled the enterprise registration of 164 Business Process Outsourcing firms that provided support services to offshore gaming operators.

And in a move that fortified the agency’s role as regulator, Lambino said, he had rationalized the grant of the master licensor agreements with the First Cagayan Leisure and Resort Corp. and the North Cagayan Gaming and Amusements Corp.

The two master licensors, he said, had agreed to cancel their operations in Metro Manila and return to the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport in Santa Ana, Cagayan, in compliance with the provisions of Executive Order

Malacañang released the directive early this year to strengthen the fight against illegal gambling and clarify the jurisdiction and authority of government agencies in the regulation and licensing of gambling and online gaming facilities.

The separate supplemental agreements recently signed between CEZA and FCLRC and NGGAC would inevitably pave the way for the entry of new players, Lambino said.

“With this move, we have now leveled the playing field. This will allow new and more players to come in, which will mean greater revenue for the government―money that we could use to help support the social programs and projects of the President and help us build new infrastructure in CEZA.”

Lambino said creating a highly competitive business environment in CEZA was a confidence-building measure that would send the message that no entity would get any special treatment from the agency.

In each of the supplemental agreements signed on Nov. 20, it was provided that “regulatory functions and powers over all gaming operators, land-based and offshore, shall be the exclusive authority of CEZA.”

In removing the exclusivity clause of the license agreement issued to the two master licensors, CEZA retained First Cagayan as a “non-exclusive licensor for interactive gaming.”

CEZA would also authorize First Cagayan as licensor for land-based gaming after the latter shall have complied with all CEZA requirements for land-based casino operations.