By Manly M. Ugalde
LEGAZPI CITY --- After eight long years, the controversial online gaming corporation operated by Meridien Vista Gaming is finally out in Albay.
Albay Provincial Capitol Spokesman Danny Garcia of the Office of Gov. Al Francis Bichara confirmed that the controversial Meridien Vista Gaming reportedly owned by Atong Ang has already ceased operation effective May 25, 2017, or a month after the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office launched the Small Town Lottery (STL) in the province with Lucky V Inc. as its franchisee-operator.
But blogger and former radioman Elmer Bandol claimed he still witnesses some bet collectors other than those identified with Lucky V who bring with them bet receipts with PCSO logo on them.
A DZRC Radio Station broadcast report alleged that some STL bookies already surfaced following the recent launching of STL. Media efforts to contact Lucky V officials proved unsuccessful even as they claimed that the office of Lucky V is often without personnel at hand, nor one that may to talk to the media if ever there are personnel around.
With the full backing of the 16 municipal government units of Albay, including its three cities, the erstwhile Meridien Vista online operation, otherwise called by its notorious label “jai-teng,” actually began in 2009 on the strength of a provincial board resolution granting Meridien to operate throughout the province of Albay. Meridien allegedly was granted permit to operate by the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (Ceza), but which was meant to be within the Ceza covered area only.
How it came to Albay was a puzzle to many but not to the local officials who granted Meridien permit to operate within the province.
It was alleged that Meridien’s online operation was actually used as front for a numbers game, jueteng style, using results of jai alai, where supposed remittances to host LGUs were not in order, if there were remittances at all.
The governor’s spokesperson said what is now existing in the province is the STL launched by the PCSO late last April. He refused to elaborate.
PCSO Albay Manager Nelly Loyola said all the Bicol six provinces will each have one STL franchise only. It was not known in what other provinces, aside from Albay, the STL has started operation and who are the respective franchisees.