• Congress lauded for supporting STL

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    STATE gaming agency Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) on Thursday lauded the support expressed by lawmakers to its efforts to expand Small Town Lottery (STL) operations as a means to eradicate illegal numbers games in the country.

    “There might be illegal activities on the ground but with our efforts to strengthen and expand STL, lawmakers can be assured that we are gaining ground against illegal gambling and numbers operations, which deprive the government of its much-needed revenue,” PCSO General Manager Alexander Balutan said.

    “We appreciate the efforts and the inputs provided by the House Committee on Appropriations for us to further improve our operations, particularly in STL, which is instrumental in killing jueteng and other forms of illegal numbers game in the country,” Balutan added.

    During a hearing conducted by the House appropriations committee on the proposed P3.7-trillion national budget for 2018, PCSO Chairman Jose Jorge Corpuz told lawmakers that the expansion of STL operations was intended to turn gambling lords into “gaming lords.”

    The government expects P18.32 billion in 2017 in revenues from 92 STL operators, or 183 percent higher from P6.46 billion last year.

    Among those discussed by PCSO officials with lawmakers for the STL’s further improvement include placing restrictions to stop the operations of other illegal numbers games, reviewing the law mandating PCSO to provide for contributions under at least 27 Republic Acts and centralizing and computerizing STL operations.

    Balutan said for the agency to fully realize its responsibility to eradicate all forms of illegal numbers games in the country, law enforcement agencies should also do their part in protecting STL operations and its Authorized Agent Corporations (AACs) based on a memorandum of agreement with the PCSO.

    From the previous figure of 18, the PCSO has now accredited 92 STL operators to help in its revenue generation efforts, which have led to the projected 183-percent increase of STL proceeds to P18.32 billion in 2017, from P6.46 billion last year.

    The PCSO’s total retail receipts are projected to increase by 31 percent or P51.88 billion in 2017 from the P39.56 billion in 2016. The projected net receipt for 2018 is P60.9 billion.

    Based on its budget presentation, the PCSO said lotto continues to account for the bulk of PCSO revenues.

    Lotto’s contribution, however, decreased by 1 percent to P28.59 billion in 2017, from P28.77 billion in 2016.

    But for 2018, it is projected to increase by 8 percent to P30.9 billion.

    Another PCSO game is Keno, which is expected to earn P4.95 billion in 2017 and P5.6 billion for 2018.

    The PCSO’s sweepstakes’ revenue is expected at P17.5 million this year and P1 billion next year.

    The PCSO Charter provides that 55 percent of net receipts shall be allocated to the payment of prizes, 30 percent to charity and social programs and 15 percent of operating expenses and capital expenditure.

    NEIL A. ALCOBER

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