Tulfo lashes out PCSO for starting e-lotto sans OP nod

Tulfo lashes out PCSO for starting e-lotto sans Palace nod

/ 11:47 PM January 18, 2024

Tulfo lashes out PCSO for starting e-lotto sans Palace nod


MANILA, Philippines — Senator Raffy Tulfo has lashed out at the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) for implementing its digital betting platform without getting approval from authorities first, particularly the Office of the President (OP).

During the hearing of the Senate committee on ways and means on Thursday, Tulfo asked PCSO officials led by Chairman Junie Cua and Melquiades Robles as to why OP was bypassed when the e-lotto operations started.


READ: PCSO starts one-year test run of E-lotto 

Robles said that they did not seek an approval because e-lotto, a system where bettors can participate in the daily lotto draws through online means, is still in the trial phase. However, Tulfo claimed that PCSO should have asked OP’s permission first regardless of the e-lotto’s stage of implementation.


“What the opinion says is if the operations involve going online, you need to get permission from the OP. E-lotto is online, so you should have obtained permission from the Office of the President, but you bypassed OP in this project […] why was it violated?” Tulfo asked, referring to the opinion from the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) on the issue.

“Mr. Chairman assuming that it is correct, we are just on a test-run po, we have to test this before having it approved, because it would look bad if we were to seek an approval only for the program to be a failure, that’s a difficult thing to do,” Robles answered.

“You’re right, pero bago ka mag-test run (before you do a test run), you should secure permission from the OP, before any move whatsoever,”  Tulfo added.

READ: BIZ BUZZ: PCSO unveils P1-B e-lotto blockbuster 

After this, Robles said that Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin allowed PCSO to determine the need for an online platform for lotto since it is more knowledgeable about this matter.

“Mr. Chair if I may, I would like to read to you a memorandum from the Executive Secretary […] ‘upon evaluation, the PCSO is advised that it has sufficient authority, is in a better position to evaluate and approve its technical guidelines on betting platforms, considering that this deals with the minimum technical specifications required for betting platforms,” Robles said.

“Finding that these are matters that will be better evaluated by PCSO as the implementing agency for its lottery games, this office defers to the PCSO’s expertise on the approval of the same.  This is regarding the betting platform, which e-lotto is a betting platform, your Honor,” he added.


However, Tulfo countered that the Executive Secretary might have refrained from making this memorandum if he knew that OGCC issued its own opinion.

“I don’t know if the Executive Secretary was able to read this OGCC opinion, what you (PCSO) should have done is to send a copy of the opinion, then tell him ‘sir you are giving an opinion but the OGCC has aired its side’. Maybe the Executive Secretary did not read this because if he was able to, then he might not have issued that kind of letter,” Tulfo said.

“I’m sure that ES will make sure that we conform to the rules and regulations and protocols in the executive department,” he added.

Eventually, Robles maintained that e-lotto operations do not need prior approval from OP because they believe OGCC’s opinion refers to PCSO’s Birthday Panalo application — noting that Birthday Panalo is a game, and e-lotto is a betting platform, and are therefore different offerings.

But Tulfo read out loud portions of OGCC’s opinion which stated that permission must be sought for games with an “experimental test-run basis” and for “procurement of several online betting systems or platforms”.

“That’s two already, it hits e-lotto and Birthday Panalo,” Tulfo said.

The said Senate panel is conducting hearings in response to complaints from lotto outlet franchisees and lotto agents that they are losing income — or even closing shop — due to PCSO’s introduction of the e-lotto platform last December 2023.

At the hearing, the president of a group of lotto agents decried that thousands of outlets have been closed already, with PCSO just reasoning out that machines are not available.

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Robles clarified that the modernization efforts did not happen under his watch, adding that if it were up to him, he prefers that lotto outlets should be at around 11,000.

TAGS: lotto, PCSO

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