By Kyanna Angela Bulan
THE PHILIPPINE Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) on Tuesday said it is seeking to boost its revenue through online lotto operations.
“We are embarking on digital operations,” PCSO Chairman Junie E. Cua told congressmen at a hearing. “We are installing additional terminals. We would like to go online, so that it would become more convenient to bet. We hope that going digital can increase our revenues.”
PCSO ticket sales rose by 32.15% to P25.92 billion in the first half from a year earlier.
Mr. Cua cited a shift from face-to-face to electronic transactions by clients. The agency is also looking at making lotto bets available to mobile and smartphones, he said.
Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus B. Rodriguez bucked the plan for online lotto, which he said would also become accessible to minors.
“We cannot afford to make online gambling being available easily to the youth of our country,” he told the hearing.
Manila City Rep. Bienvenido M. Abante, Jr. raised the same concern.
“If there is a digital kind of game wherein children can bet, I think the PCSO should look out for it because we do not want our own children, as young as they would be, to bet on this digital game”, he said.
“Online betting has serious economic and moral impacts on Filipino families and especially young people and the poor,” Antonio Gabriel M. La Viña, a human rights lawyer and former dean of the Ateneo de Manila University’s School of Government, said in a text message. “The government should not be encouraging this.”
Also on Tuesday, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) said it was monitoring illegal Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO).
“Out of the 30 legal licensees, 27 continue to operate,” Pagcor Chairman Alejandro H. Tengco told the same congressional hearing.
Pagcor wants the police and National Bureau of Investigation to look at the illegal operations of some operators and gaming sites, he said. The agency is also studying potential conflicts of interest that may arise given Pagcor’s dual role as a regulator and gambling operator.
“It is best to regulate because you cannot be two agents acting as one,” Quezon City Rep. David C. Suarez said.
Mr. La Viña said Pagcor has a schizophrenic identity. “It cannot be a regulator and operator at the same time, but it does that effectively,” he said.