PCSO mulls online lotto betting

Published September 11, 2020, 6:58 PM

by Ben Rosario

Online lotto betting applications and other betting systems are being considered by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office as betting alternatives during and beyond the COVID 19 pandemic period.

In a recent budget hearing in the House of Representatives, PCSO General Manager Royina Garma said  they are now reviewing the current implementing rules and regulations of lotto operations to consider other betting systems that would address the current COVID-19 situation.

“There is a possibility of using mobile apps and other systems of betting so that we will have other alternatives, in case, this will happen again,” Garma said but this time, referring, to the temporary restraining order issued by a lower court to prevent PCSO from engaging another contractor for the lotto betting operations.

As Garma responded to questions from lawmakers on the legal issues hounding the PCSO, the Supreme Court affirmed with finality its decision to uphold the state-run lottery agency’s cancellation of a P4.4 billion joint venture agreement with TMA Group.

With the decision comes PCSO’s victory in its bid to free up to P702.2 million worth of assets seized by the Australia-based TMA Group.

Apparently stung by this experience with its former lotto operations contractor, the PCSO is now considering the “unbundling” of the different processes of lotto operations to prevent similar incidents from happening again.

During the budget hearing, Quezon City Rep. Jesus Suntay grilled Garma and other PCSO officials for the seeming slow-paced action in improving the lotto playing system.

Suntay noted that lotto sales dropped for reasons other than the pandemic. 

Lotto sales have dropped from P31.87 billion in 2017, P31.9 billion in 2018 and only P21.3 bilion in 2019.

Several solons have blamed government’s  imposition of 20 percent taxes on bets and winnings as the principal reason for the drop in sales last year.

Previously, prizes won from state-lotteries were tax free to boost PCSO’s charity fund.

Suntay also warned that condonation of payment of mandatory PCSO share from operations of certain Small Town Lottery operators is one .

Garma assured the QC solon that collection cases have already been filed against defaulting authorized agent corporations for STL.

“We were able to restore the original contracts.  Very few have not remitted but we do not allow them to resume operations,” she said.