SC lets expanded Small Town Lottery operation

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ATTEMPTS to stop the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) from expanding the operation of Small Town Lottery, the only legitimate numbers game in the country, were quelled after the Supreme Court (SC) ruled in favor of the state-run charity institution.

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PCSO General Manager Alexander Balutan over the weekend said the SC en banc has dismissed a petition filed by the Taal Balisong Gaming Corp. (TBGC), a local gaming corporation in Batangas province, questioning the legality of STL operation in the country.

The TBGC filed a case against the PCSO, claiming that its board “grossly violated” the petitioner’s right to equal protection of the law and “unduly stifled” competition in the STL business when it allowed another operator to operate in the province.

The petitioner was referring to the Batangas Enhanced Technology Systems Inc., an authorized agent corporation or AAC of the PCSO in the province, that is expected to match the Presumptive Monthly Retail Receipts (PMRR) of the TBGC.

The PCSO was the one that set the PMMR, which local gaming operators and AACs must comply with and remit.

The TBGC also questioned the legality of Section 44 of the Implementing Rules and Regulation (IRR) of the expanded STL.

Section 44 of the Small Town Lottery IRR provides that all existing STL authorized agent corporations as of October 1, 2016 shall have the “right to match” the PMRRs offered by other interested applicants in their areas of operation if the PCSO opens the areas to other applicants.

The SC, in its resolution dated March 21, 2017, moved to dismiss the petition of the TBGC and upheld the legality of Section 44 of the Small Town Lottery IRR.

“The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the expansion of STL operation in the country,” Balutan said as he welcomed the ruling of the court.

The PCSO general manager noted that they would continue to expand and defend the only legal numbers game in the country to help in the generation of funds that the government could use in providing medical assistance to Filipinos.

The PCSO has approved a total of 91 ACCs of which 47 started operation on May 15.

The state-run charity agency expects to collect around P27 billion in revenues this year with the continuous expansion of the STL.

JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA

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