Meridien out, STL in

BATTLE FOR NUMBERS GAME

LINGAYEN–The days of jai-alai betting in Pangasinan may already be numbered as the Small Town Lottery (STL) under the authority of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) is now all set to operate in the province.

A symposium on STL was reportedly organized in Dagupan last Thursday by a group that received the franchise to operate STL.

Also discussed in that symposium was the case filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Dagupan against several personnel of the Meridien Vista Gaming Corporation which was dismissed by the assistant provincial prosecutor of San Carlos City.

The meeting came a day after eight persons claiming to be working for Golden Go Rapid Gaming Corporation (GGRGC) were arrested by the Dagupan Police on Careenan Street on May 9, just in front of the City Engineering Office as they were about to put up the signage of their company at their betting station.

They were arrested on the complaint of Arthur Jose, who claimed to be corporate executive officer of the real GGRGC that was given the franchise to operate STL in Pangasinan.

P/Sr. Superintendent Ronald Lee, police provincial director, told newsmen the eight suspects were charged for Violation of Article 189 of the Revised Penal Code:

“unfair competition, fraudulent registration of trade mark, trade-name or service mark, fraudulent designation of origin and false description.”

Lee said that based on documents submitted by Jose, his group appears to be the legitimate franchise holder.

In an interview with Jose, he said the STL will draw the winning numbers in Urdanerta City at the premises of the office of the PCSO and can be witnessed by the public.

Asked by newsmen whether STL will replace jueteng operations in the province, Lee who continued to deny the existence of jueteng operations in Pangasinan, clarified that what STL operation could affect would be that of Meridien Vista Gaming Corporation.

Last week, The PUNCH reported the arrest of Meridien’s employees in Urbiztondo by operatives of the National Bureau of Investigation in Dagupan City after they were caught handling paraphernalia for jueteng.

On Merdien’s continued operations, Lee said there is still a court battle going on about the operation of its jai-alai off-fronton betting stations.

During the interview, Lee acknowledged that he does not know how many numbers are played in jai-alai.

On the NBI arrests, Lee said he was informed that the NBI already secured a document from the Court of Appeals that it can use in appealing the case.

Meanwhile, some mayors are being persuaded to cancel the business permits they issued to Meridien in their respective areas in favor of STL. (Leonardo Micua)