Online gambling is not a crime, according to a ruling handed down this week by the Pampanga Court of Appeals in relations to a complaint filed back in October 2006 against British Grand Vision International’s Edgar Lim.
‘Not an illegal act’
The Court of Appeals said in its ruling that the Department of Justice had “committed grave abuse of discretion” by stating that online gambling is one of the illegal acts punishable under Presidential Decree 1602. That decree was used in the filing of illegal gambling charges against Lim and 40 other people.
Presidential Decree 1602, which was enacted in 1978, has been amended several times, perhaps leading to all this confusion. But in its ruling the Court of Appeals said the amendments did not provide any penalties for online gambling. Because there is no crime where there is no law penalizing it, the court said, online gambling is therefore not illegal.
The court responded harshly to the Department of Justice’s actions in classifying online gambling as illegal, saying that by filing the charges in this case, it exceeded its authority. The court added that the act of the Secretary of Justice was “a clear and grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.”
What this means for online gambling
Firstly, this ruling means Lim and British Grand Vision International are innocent of the charges, which were filed in October 2006 following a raid by National Bureau of Investigation agents in which they seized equipment believed to be used in the conduct of illegal gambling.
The news is encouraging too for online gambling companies who operate casinos, poker rooms and sports betting facilities in the Philippines. This ruling seems to clear up a grey area which could potentially have been exploited by authorities.