Lotto ticket price cut amid pandemic
The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) plans to reduce the price of a lotto ticket to make it more affordable for bettors who are looking for additional sources of income amid the economic downturn.
PCSO General Manager Royina Garma said the state-run charity would roll back the price of a lotto ticket from P24 to P20 in the hopes of beefing up its revenue collections by luring more bettors to play lotto.
Lotto draws have remained suspended due to restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.
“We restructured the price based on the suggestions of our agents and gaming public,” said Garma, who cited a study that showed the new price is viable. “We will roll back to P20 and this already includes the VAT (value-added tax).”
Tickets for the popular lotto were already priced P20 until 2018, when that price was raised due to changes prompted by the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act.
The PCSO has been bleeding since March, when nationwide lockdowns forced it to shut down operations.
PCSO official Agnes Ibera told the Inquirer that the agency was still waiting for the go-signal of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases to resume the numbers game.
In the meantime, the PCSO is looking into revisiting the consolation prizes it doles out to those who correctly guess five of the six winning digits.
While second-placers were previously forced to split the payout among themselves, Garma said the PCSO was looking into granting each second-prize winner the amount in full.
The possibility of this higher prize could be an incentive for many bettors to turn out when the lotto draws reopen, she said.
“Except for the jackpot prize, in the other consolation prizes, whatever the amount is, that is what the winning bettor would receive,” Garma said in a radio interview.
The various games offered by the PCSO, like the nationwide lotto, keno and Small Town Lottery, allow the agency to foot the bill for a large bulk of state expenses, including health and social services.
Fight vs COVID-19
The PCSO has contributed over P3 billion so far to the fight against COVID-19, although P2.2 billion of that was an advance payment of dividends that the agency is mandated to disburse.
It has given P420 million to the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. and P447 million to 81 government hospitals throughout the country at the onset of the pandemic, when a shortage in supplies and surge in patients forced several facilities to reach their breaking point.
The three biggest beneficiaries, with P50 million each, were the Philippine General Hospital, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine and Southern Philippines Medical Center.
The PCSO said the assistance was used to procure testing kits, medical and diagnostic equipment, medicine, laboratory procedures and personal protective equipment.
It had a difficult year in 2019. In July 2019, President Duterte issued a blanket shutdown of all PCSO lotto games over corruption concerns, costing the state-run charity an estimated P250 million in revenue just days into the closure.
The ban on most PCSO games was lifted after about a month.
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