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House OKs bill imposing stiffer fines on game-fixing

by Jericho Zafra

THE House of Representatives approved on the third and final reading a bill that may soon impose heavier sanctions on game-fixing committed in professional or amateur sports.

A total of 249 lawmakers voted in favor of the measure, with no opposition or abstentions.

Under the provisions of House Bill 4513, also known as the Anti-Game Fixing bill, a person who is found guilty of game fixing will face a minimum prison sentence of three to six years or a fine of P1 million to P5 million.

The prison sentence is increased to six to 12 years when the offender is an athlete, promoter, referee, umpire, judge, or coach, the bill said.

If the offender is a member of a syndicate, the perpetrator faces the possibility of a conviction of life imprisonment, a fine of not less than 10 million but not more than 50 million, or both.

The liability of students who are minors and who are found to have violated any of the offenses outlined in the provision shall be limited to administrative liability only under the disciplinary rules and regulations of the school or institution to which they belong.

The act also prohibits other types of game-fixing, such as point-shaving, game machination, and the deliberate encouragement of another person to commit game-fixing and profit from it. 

Point-shaving is any arrangement, combination, method, or agreement that limits a player’s or competitor’s capacity to make points or scores in a game, race, or sporting event to sway the outcome in favor of one team, player or participant over another. 

Game machinations, on the other hand, relate to any other dishonest, unfair, deceptive, or dishonest means, technique, manner, or practice used to try to affect the outcome of a game, race, or sporting event.

Those who reveal game-fixing and any other activities classified as punishable in the act, as well as those who testify or aid in the prosecution of the offenders, are free from charges and punishment under the terms of this act, according to the resolution.

Proponents of the bill said the stiffer fines are needed because game fixing defeats the promotion of values earned through sports, such as self-discipline, teamwork, and excellence.

In 2021, the Department of Justice charged 17 people, including three Chinese nationals, with multiple counts of game fixing for anomalies in the 2019 Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League games. However, 17 betting and point-shaving counts were dropped due to a lack of evidence.

Additionally, the Games and Amusements Board revoked the Siquijor Mystics’ professional licenses for their role in the alleged “game-fixing scam” at the Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup Visayas leg in Alcantara, Cebu in 2021.

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