The House committee on games and amusements chaired by Rep. Gus Tambunting (2nd District, Parañaque City) has formed a technical working group (TWG) that will fine-tune House Bill 4843 which seeks to strengthen the Games and Amusement Board (GAB) by expanding its regulatory powers and supervisory functions over professional sports, allied activities, and other forms of amusement.
The committee named Rep. Mark Aeron Sambar (Party-List, PBA) as head of the TWG that will deliberate further on HB 4843 authored by Reps. Rodel Batocabe (Partylist, Ako Bicol) and Winston Castelo (2nd District, Quezon City).
Sambar suggested a review of the respective powers and jurisdiction of both the local government units (LGUs) and GAB over gaming activities.
Among the recommendations of the committee members that will be included in the TWG discussions are the following: 1) Expand the definition of “professional sports or competitions” and “professional athlete”; 2) Grant GAB the authority to reduce the 45-day rest period required of boxers, wrestlers, or fighters reckoning from the date of their last fight or bout to not less than 30 days subject to certain conditions; 3) Replace the proposed Athletes’ Welfare Fund with a Trust Fund to cover all professional athletes and not only boxers; and 4) Identify the quasi-judicial powers of GAB in a separate provision.
Batocabe said the bill proposes the widening of the functions and regulatory powers of the GAB due to the proliferation of new games and other sources of amusement that Filipinos have access to.
Likewise, Batocabe said the bill seeks to provide the GAB with expanded functions and powers, including quasi-judicial powers, so it can enforce all laws relevant to professional sports and settle questions, matters and controversies or disputes in connection with professional sports under GAB’s supervision.
During the hearing, GAB Commissioner Mario Masanguid and GAB Legal Service Chief Ermar Benitez supported such recommendation to grant the GAB with quasi-judicial powers so it can enforce pertinent gaming laws more effectively.
Under the bill, the GAB shall also have regulatory and supervisory authority over other forms of amusement such as beauty pageants and concerts, and even maintenance of theme parks.
It also provides for the creation of an Anti–Illegal Gambling Unit (AIGU) attached to the GAB that shall be tasked to combat and prevent the existence and proliferation of illegal bookie joints and other illegal forms of organized gambling in professional sports and amusement games.
Currently, GAB continues to provide protection to the public against illegal betting or bookie joints, and other forms of organized illegal gambling, while ensuring that professional sports activities continue to be a stable source of revenue.
With the development of new forms of professional sports such as the Mixed Martial Arts and new modes of betting made available through new technology, it is imperative to strengthen the powers and duties of the GAB so that it can continue to fulfill its mandate, lawmakers said.