Philweb decries Pagcor’s ‘bias’ for competitor
Publicly listed Philweb Corp. has moved to stop the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) from implementing a new rule that will require its electronic gaming operations to be monitored by a third party audit firm — a policy which the Philweb says discriminates against it since it will not be imposed on other competitors.
In a petition for an injunction filed last week with the Manila Regional Trial Court, Philweb said the gaming regulator’s proposal to bid out the services for an Electronic Gaming Management System (EGMS) violated the firm’s rights under the Constitution’s due process and equal protection clause.
“It is anti competitive and heavily favors Inter-Active Entertainment Solutions Technologies Inc. (IEST) at the expense of its competitors like the plaintiff,” said the firm owned by businessman Gregorio Araneta III.
IEST is, like Philweb, accredited by the regulator to provide technology services to electronic gaming franchise holders, most of whom operate e-games or e-bingo outlets. Philweb said, however, that Pagcor has imposed onerous requirements on it that is not required from IEST, as well.
This lack of a level playing field between both service providers in the eyes of Pagcor exists even though “there is no substantial difference” between Philweb, which does not have an intellectual property licensing and management agreement (IPLMA) and and IPLMA holder like IEST in terms of services provided to the public, the company said.
“IEST, as the lone IPLMA holder, already possesses tremendous benefits and advantages over its competitors,” Philweb said in its plea. “But if the EGMS pushes through, as it is defined and delineated by Pagcor in its invitation to bid, the advantages in favor of IEST will be increased significantly.”
“What is at issue in this case is not IEST’s possession of the IPLMAbut that fact that the bidding for the EGMS has been obviously designed to exclude IEST from its coverage and thus give it additional advantage,” the company told the court.
The bidding document published by Pagcor states that the EGMS will cover all a firm’s products and services except those covered by existing intellectual property licensing agreements. Since only IEST has an IPLMA, that exclusion only pertains to it, Philweb explained.
“The legitimate gaming industry has a special interest in preventing the aforementioned unfair, abusive and anti-competitive treatment of IEST and its competitors, as the continued proliferation of such practice, especially coming from the industry regulator will create an uneven playing field in the market and wreak havoc on the industry,” the company told the court. /atm
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