Philippines, for the past three weeks, has become a battleground between multiple independent and loosely affiliates organized crime groups which aligned into two factions for the control of the lucrative illegal gambling market.
Jueteng Mafia Lords – are violent mafia families in control of the lucrative illegal gambling market, specifically the illegal game of Jueteng. Each province has multiple Jueteng Lords who in essence are godfathers who operate the illegal game.
Jueteng is the most popular numbers game in the country despite being illegal under Philippine gambling laws and is played by rich and poor alike. For reasons unknown, few if any politicians publicly support licensing and taxing the game even though the vast majority of the population as well as politicians frequently play it.
The game is beloved due to the payout which is 800 to 1 (odds 1369 to 1) with no minimum or maximum betting limits. The game is played with two large dice, each with 37 numbers. Players select two numbers, each between 1 and 37, and if the dice roll their numbers on a $100 bet they could win $80,000.
The coalition of the Jueteng lords are at war with Meridien Vista Gaming Corp.(MVGC), controlled by Atong Ang, a business man who many believe to be the leader of one of the largest and most powerful organized crime groups within the country allegedly involved in everything from operating illegal online casinos in Philippines to drug smuggling.
The Philippines Games and Amusement Board (GAB) are currently investigating how the gambling license for the province of Cagayan Valley was acquired by MVGC and who approved it. Unfortunately all paperwork is missing, yet the license is valid.
Meridian was able to secure a franchise from GAB to operate jai-alai, another numbers game. Surprisingly the alleged organize crime operated gambling provider has illegally spread throughout multiple provinces.
Online gambling news in Philippines reports that law enforcement is helpless since the enormous sums of money generated from illegal gambling are used to bribe judges, politicians, army generals, and entire police departments.
National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) along with Philippines Deputy Director for Intelligence Services (DDIS) confirmed hostilities between the Meridien Vista Gaming Corp. (MVGC) and two identified Jueteng Lords operating in the province have escalated to unprecedented levels and are spilling over into neighboring provinces.
“Clearly, there exists a turf war between the Jueteng Lords and the Meridien Vista Gaming Corp., and the brickbats hurled at law enforcement and NBI operatives are a consequence of these ongoing hostilities between these mentioned entities,” DDIS Deputy Director stated.
The Philippines Justice Department and Local Governments are trying to work out a plan to resolve this controversy and will jointly pursue investigation into how Meridien Gaming and Atong Ang was able to get a gambling permit from GAB.