Gambling game’s up in Philippines

Pagcorp to sue 'Game,' Smart, phone co. for sponsoring betting

MANILA — Time was when gameshows, including Filipino franchises of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” and “The Weakest Link,” flooded the 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. time slots.

Now, the fascination has faded and only electronic audience participation is saving the survivors.

But that too may end after the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcorp) accused many of illegal electronic gambling last month.

TV and radio shows invite viewers to gamble by sending short messages (SMS) on cell phones.

Pagcorp has targeted popular ABS-CBN Broadcasting Network’s “Game ka na ba” (Are You Game?), which airs at 7 p.m. Mondays to Fridays.

According to ABS-CBN managing director Carlo Katigbak, “Game ka na ba” earns $500,000 a month from calls from viewers hoping to win an instant fortune.

Pagcorp also plans to sue mobile phone company Smart Communications and the Philippines Long Distance Telephone Co. for sponsoring gambling on the show, hosted by former President Corazon Aquino’s daughter, Kris.

Smart pulled its sponsorship, and now ABS-CBN plans to sue the telco for breach of contract.

Rival network GMA’s 23-year-old noontime show “Eat Bulaga” and the live coverage of the pro Philippine Basketball Assn. will also have to answer charges. The watchdog has already filed 10 cases against gamshow sponsor Globe Telecom.

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