The Philippines state-run lottery operator has declared war on illegal gambling operators and the police that protect them.
On Thursday, the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) announced it would impose tougher rules and regulations on small town lottery (STL) operations in a bid to stamp out the illegal jueteng numbers game.
GMA News quoted PCSO chairman Jose Jorge Corpuz saying he’d met with Philippine National Police (PNP) officials, regional directors and city directors to discuss the new rules, which Corpuz said were meant to underscore the fact that “STL is the only legal numbers game that will operate in the country.”
There are currently only 18 licensed STL authorized agent corporations in the country. Corpuz blamed the previous PCSO board for their failure to approve some 189 agent applications, and invited would-be agents to submit new applications before Oct. 31. Corpuz expects some of these new applicants will be illegal operators looking to go legit.
In 2015, total STL revenue amounted to P4.8b (US $99.4m) but Corpuz expects the expanded STL operation will bring in P11.5b in 2017. In exchange for the PNP’s cooperation in stamping out the jueteng competition, the PNP will get a 2.5% cut from future STL revenue.
The PCSO also announced that PNP officers caught protecting illegal gambling operators will be publicly named and shamed (in addition to the usual punishments). PCSO general manager Alexander Balutan said “intelligence information coming from the ground” would help ferret out PNP officers and local officials who are accepting money from gambling operators to look the other way.
Balutan said the tandem PCSO-PNP crackdown would begin by the end of 2016 or in early 2017. Balutan believes illegal gambling operators deprive the PCSO of P15b in annual lost revenue and redirecting this flow of illegal profits is essential to the PCSO meeting its annual revenue target of P50b.
Neither PCSO official made mention of the government’s rumored plans to privatize the PCSO. Other rumors have circulated that the government wants to merge the PCSO with the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (PAGCOR), although that could conflict with PAGCOR’s announced transition to a purely regulatory role.