By Erma Edera
Manila Mayor Isko Moreno has ordered to immediately shut down an illegal gambling center inside a mall on Recto Avenue following a raid with the Manila Police District on Wednesday.
The Manila chief caught some minors betting a peso to win cash prizes before he served a search warrant to the establishment’s personnel.
“They pose as an amusement game center. In an amusement game center which is sometimes allowed by local government units, they will buy a coin or through a card a load. Then when played, they win tickets, and tickets are converted into points. Points gathered can be converted into something,” he said.
“But what they are doing, after the report we conducted about a few days ago through General Danao and Major Ibay of SMART city hall detachment, we saw in the video that one peso also wins one peso,” he added.
Domagoso also issued a stern warning against malls, commercial establishments not to allow the operation of any illegal gambling front victimizing minors or they will face closure and necessary charges.
He explained that based on tipped information and the result of a surveillance conducted for days, kids are the usual ‘victims’ who get addicted to illegal gambling.
“Tignan nyo naman kawawa ang bata. Akala nya pag tumaya siya ng piso nanalo siya ng piso, legal na ‘yun. Nilalagay natin sa isip ng bata na ang abnormal ay normal so ano mangyayari paglaki nun?,” he said.
The gambling center will be immediately shut down and charges will be filed against the owner, the Mayor said.
Domagoso said they are looking if charges may also be filed against the mall owners or operators for ‘protecting’ the illegal gambling inside the establishment.
“Sa atin, lahat ng negosyo pwede. Pag illegal ang negosyo mo, pwede ka naman pumili ng lugar sa labas ng Maynila. Huwag sa Maynila,” he said.
The mayor said that clearly, the said ‘arcade’ is operating as an illegal gambling site without any franchise and by circumventing the privilege given to it to operate within a mall.
“Wala itong pinagkaiba sa video karera at fruit games na pinagbabawal natin. Disenteng lugar nga lang ang ginagamit na front para maging legal,” he said.
Meanwhile, the mall’s management refused to comment on the incident.
Charges for violation of PD 1602 or the anti-illegal gambling law will be filed against the arcade operators while the minors were spared.