'We are not joking:' PCSO sues lottery firms running illegal online operations

Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) General Manager Mel Robles and Director Retired Judge Felix Reyes on Monday, Oct. 23, personally filed charges against four firms involved in "unauthorized" online lottery operations in the country.

Photo credit to PCSO

"Hindi tayo nagbibiro (We are not joking)," Robles said in a statement.

"We will file charges and imprison all those involved in this illegal operation to put an end to their wrongdoing," he added in a mix of English and Filipino.

Criminal complaints were filed with the Mandaluyong Prosecutors Office against four companies: Eplayment Corporation, Paymero Technologies Limited, GlobalComRCI International, and Blockchain Smart-Tech Co. I.T. Consultancy.

Robles emphasized that the agency is losing billions of pesos in revenue due to the illegal operations conducted by the "suspects."

He also explained that the unpermitted lottery operations not only "jeopardize" PCSO's revenue "but also erode public trust in the legitimacy and fairness of its authorized games."

Photo credit to PCSO

The complaint was initiated after the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) conducted a probe, revealing that the mentioned groups were responsible for the ownership, operation, and administration of "Pakilotto and Surelotto."

"The companies reportedly misused the PCSO's name, logo, and various lottery games, soliciting and accepting bets from the public through their unauthorized mobile applications and websites," PCSO said.

Furthermore, Robles confirmed that the evidence seized by the NBI during the investigation effectively substantiates the mentioned firms' illegal activities, leaving no room for doubt or ambiguity.

'Pakilotto, Superlotto'

In a post, PCSO revealed that the investigation found that Eplayment, which operated through the "now-defunct" website "Pakilotto," was soliciting and accepting bets, amounting to P30 per ticket, showing a 50 percent higher than the standard P20 lotto ticket.

On the other hand, "Surelotto" is a similar mobile app that sells tickets for P25, which is 25 percent higher than a regular lotto ticket.

In addition, PCSO said the GlobalComRCI and Blockchain Smart-Tech have forged a partnership with Eplayment, alongside the technology provider Paymero, to utilize the latter's software for payment processing and financial account management. 

Although their roles as facilitators, there are reports of these companies having established a revenue-sharing agreement.

"The complaint-affidavit states that the owners, directors, and/or officers of Paymero, Eplayment, GlobalComRCI, and Blockchain, as owners, operators, and/or administrators of Pakilotto and Sukilotto, have committed Usurpation of Authority under Article 177 of the Revised Penal Code, a violation of R.A. No. 1169, as amended, and a violation of Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1602, as amended by Republic Act No. 9287, in connection with Executive Order No. 13, Series of 2017," PCSO noted.

Furthermore, Robles highlighted the PCSO's unwavering commitment to preserving the integrity and legitimacy of its lottery games, ensuring fair treatment and protection for the public.

Moreover, he added that " these legal actions should serve as a stern warning to those engaged in illegal activities, and the PCSO will continue to work diligently to maintain a secure and trusted lottery experience for all participants."