Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) General Manager Alexander Balutan on Monday said the agency is confident it can bid out this year the P10.906-billion Nationwide Online Lottery System (NOLS) project to upgrade the more than 20-year-old equipment being used for Lotto games draws.
He said the bidding for the project was stalled since last year by court cases filed by the Philippine Gaming Management Corp. (PGMC), a Malaysian-controlled firm. But he said there’s a “light at the end of the tunnel” after receiving information PGMC will withdraw the courts cases.
“I’ve been informed that PGMC will withdraw all their cases in the courts, also at the request of the PCSO so that we can proceed with the bidding for the NOLS,” Balutan said.
The project aims to establish a centralized technology system for PCSO’s lottery games draws for Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
At present, PGMC is the service provider for Luzon, while Pacific Online Systems Corp. (POSC) conducts draws for Visayas and Mindanao. Both firms are listed at the Philippines Stock Exchange.
But their Equipment Lease Agreements (ELAs) are going to expire in the middle of this year.
In July 2017, Presiding Judge Maximo de Leon of the Makati City Regional Trial Court, Branch 143, granted a temporary restraining order (TRO) in favor of PGMC against the NOLS bidding participated in by at least 17 firms who bought bid documents.
The court action dismayed officials and employees of PCSO because they said the state-of-the-art lottery systems would give the agency a bigger market share that will help PCSO generate more funds for government. The NOLS is also cheaper than the current lottery lease system.
Balutan said the lottery systems and technology upgrade would also enhance the capability of the more than 10,000 lotto outlets nationwide that are supervised by PCSO.
“We have to have state-of-the-art systems and technology for our lottery games,” Balutan stressed.
He also pointed out that the bidding would be the first ever in the history of PCSO.
“Because previously, it was just an ELA, merely equipment lease agreement. There was no bidding done when they were tapped in 1996. Their [PGMC and POSC] ELAs will terminate by July and August this year, respectively,” he said.
“Through this bidding, we can upgrade the quality of the system and equipment and games so that our nationwide lotto system can be modernized, because we have fallen behind with the lotto systems in other countries,” Balutan added.