(From left) - Jody Bechtold, Chief Executive Officer of The Better Institute, Emeritus, International Gambling Certification Board; Teresita "Chit" C. Castillo, Chairperson of Seagulls Flock Organization; Alejandro H. Tetangco, Chairman of Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation; Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte; Dr. Stephanie Diez-Morel, Vice President of IGCB, Founder & president of Reboot & Recover, and Dr. Marc N. Potenza, professor of Psychiatry, Child Study and Neuroscience of Yale School of Medicine. – Photo by Perfecto T. Raymundo, Jr.

QUEZON CITY — Mayor Joy Belmonte on Monday (May 20) said that it’s due time to hold the first International conference on responsible gambling and gaming addiction. 

Belmonte recalled the incident wherein a high roller gambler, who was a former government employee, who staged an attack inside a gambling casino that claimed the lives of many innocent victims and destruction to properties.

She noted that gambling and gaming addiction have evolved from traditional forms. 

“Gambling and gaming are not only present in resorts but also in other places,” Belmonte said. 

“It is a slimmer of hope. The luck strikes in one in a million,” she added. 

She noted that there are now 43 million online gamers in the Philippines, majority of which use online devices. 

There remains a vacuum to address their setbacks. 

She cited for an instance that here in the Philippines, gaming and gambling are regulated by PAGCOR that contributes income to the government which fund projects and programs of the government. 

The Quezon City chief executive acknowledged the presence of PAGCOR chief Al Tengco. 

Belmonte cited a city ordinance which regulates responsible gaming and gambling activities of the 3.2 million QCitizens. 

She also cited the new Solaire casino hotel in Quezon City which will create thousands of jobs to city residents and generate millions in income to the city government. 

*There is a lot of work for us. Pioneering work in our communities which will address the problem of gambling addiction, ” Belmonte stressed. 

The Quezon City local government was praised for the initiatives undertaken in connection with responsible gambling and gaming addiction. 

In a press conference, Belmonte said the city government has led in data gathering in connection with responsible gambling and gaming addiction. 

She noted that gambling addiction may lead to mental health problems and may even result to destruction of the moral fiber of the family. 

“We aim to achieve responsible gambling and address gaming addiction,” Belmonte said. 

Belmonte noted that among the participants in today’s event are the members of the academe, who would in turn, disseminate awareness and information on responsible gambling and gaming addiction and how to address them. 

” We are empowering the youth,” she said. 

“For as long as I am the Mayor, it (Solaire North) will be the only one in Quezon City,” Belmonte stressed. 

She had requested that the Casino North should not be visible to school children. 

The Quezon City chief executive stressed that there are 19,000 city hall employees who are prohibited entry to Solaire North, but they and their respective families can dine in the restaurants in the area, however, never in casino area. 

Belmonte expressed the hope that they would be able to obtain “hard data” to present to PAGCOR in order to receive additional income so that the social risks of casino gambling would be addressed. 

Alejandro H. Tengco, Chairman of PAGCOR, said that the conference that starts today is being held with the help of the Quezon City government and the Seagulls Flock Organization. 

Tetangco echoed the statement earlier made by Mayor Belmonte that about one-third of the 115 million Filipinos are involved in gambling. 

“We are now looking at different platforms that would address the concerns of gamblers,” Tetangco said. 

He added that PAGCOR is now looking at a software to mitigate the problem of gambling addiction. 

He assured the stakeholders of PAGCOR that they are fully behind their initiatives for responsible gambling and address gaming addiction. 

The PAGCOR chief cited Globe for making Gcash the number one cash solution. 

“We have so many licensees and I urge them to support Seaguls Organization,” Tetangco said. 

He also noted the big attendees in today’s event, expressing the hope that bigger attendees will participate next year. 

Tetangco said that 68 percent of the gross revenues of PAGCOR goes to the national government, PhiHealth, Philippine Sports Commissioner and other corporate social responsibility initiatives. 

“We are the top GOCCs — BIR, BOC, PAGCOR — that are contributing to the coffers of the national government,” he said. 

“In 2023, almost Php50 billion has been remitted by Pagcor to the national coffers which funded various projects and programs of the government,” he added.

Tetangco noted that the prevailing rule is that a Casino facility should be at least 200 meters away from school premises. 

He also said that with the advanced identification system with the use of Artificial Intelligence, some 1,000 individuals would surely not be able to gain entry into the integrated casino facilities nationwide. 

Tetangco also prematurely announced that PAGCOR is studying the earlier statement made by Mayor Belmonte for the putting up of a “Hotline” nationwide precisely to address the concerns and problem of gaming addiction. 

Teresita “Chit” C. Castillo, Chairperson of Seagulls Flock Organization, said that they are neither in favor nor against gambling. 

Castillo added that they are basically advocates of helping those who have become gaming addicts. 

She lauded the support extended by PAGCOR to the initiatives of Seagulls Organization. 

Jody Bechtold CEO of The Better Institute, Emeritus, International Gambling Counselor Certification Board (IGCCB), said that she is neither in favor nor against gambling. 

Bechtold said that they are into providing trainings and certification for responsible gambling. 

She added that they would like to help address addiction in gambling and awareness on responsible gambling.

Dr. Stephanie Diez-Morel, Vice President of IGCCB, Founder & President Reboot & Recover said “We used certified trainings for responsible gambling.” 

Dr. Morel added that they would like to help Filipino families who have problems in gaming addiction. 

Dr. Marc N. Potenza, professor of Child Psychology in Yale University, said that there are several points that are noteworthy. 

Gambling problems do not only affect the individual but also the people around them.

Dr. Potenza expressed gratitude for today’s conference which in the end would help address responsible gambling and gaming addiction. – By Perfecto T. Raymundo, Jr.

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