Towards the end of last month, Filipinos who were willing to spend some of their money on the off chance that they might become millionaires got a nasty surprise when President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the shutdown of all operations for the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office. This meant all outlets for the Lottery, scratch cards, Keno and so on were closed while investigations regarding corruption within the agency were carried out. For a few days lotto players were utterly listless until operations for that game of chance were restored, but not for the rest. Close to a month after the initial shutdown, another game was reinstated.
According to CNN Philippines the President has lifted the suspension on the Small-Town Lottery (STL) outlets of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO). That does not mean these operations can resume immediately however, as explained by Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Thursday, August 22. First, new implementing rules and regulations are being developed for STL outlet operations, and these must first be published for public viewing. Thankfully, these important steps might be done as early as Monday next week, by which point it will be okay for the outlets to resume their Small-Town Lottery draws.
The prospect of lifting the ban from STL was first made known this week when PCSO general manager Royina Garma issued a video statement on the agency’s official Facebook page, having recommended to President Rodrigo Duterte to allow these particular outfits to operate again. She notes that their Small-Town Lottery agents have been compliant in agreements with the agency by consistently remitting their guaranteed minimum monthly retail receipts (GMMRR), and once they have expressed compliance with new conditions from the PCSO then they should be allowed to resume. These conditions involve a cash bond deposit from STL agents worth three months of their GMMRRs, which will be forfeited with any failure to remit on time.
Spokesperson Sal Panelo did not provide any reason from President Duterte regarding his decision to allow the Small-Town Lottery outlets to operate again. He also cannot divulge whether or not the corruption investigations against the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, which was the reason all its raffle and game operations were suspended, has finally been finished. What is known however is that the PCSO has not been able to remit P8.4 million owed to the government, as calculated in a report from the Commission on Audit.
Small-Town Lottery has been a controversial arm of PCSO operations, originally conceptualized as a legal alternative to the illegal numbers game of jueteng. Early implementation of STL has been hampered by reports that franchises for these outlets were only awarded to jueteng operators, who continued operations hidden behind this legitimacy.
Image courtesy of SunStar PH