PCSO: E-lotto ops with OP approval, Ombudsman issues addressed

By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan

June 11, 2024, 6:12 pm

MANILA – The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) on Tuesday maintained that the technical rules on the operations of its betting platforms, including the electric-lotto, were approved by the Office of the President (OP).

PCSO General Manager Mel Robles made the remark in response to the graft and plunder complaints filed by the group Filipinos for Peace, Justice, and Progress Movement before the Office of the Ombudsman against some officials in relation to its e-lotto agreement with private firm Pacific Online Systems Corporation (POSC).

Robles said the PCSO's holding of e-lotto is pursuant to the authority granted by the OP in 2021, on the grounds that it "has sufficient authority and is in a better position to evaluate and approve its technical guidelines on betting platforms for the minimum technical requirements for PCSO games."

“The OP guidance, being an act of the executive, remains valid until amended, revoked, or replaced by its issuing authority,” Robles said in a statement.

He added that the conduct of e-lotto is in accordance with the advice of PCSO’s statutory counsel, the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC), which found the Aug. 30, 2023 memorandum of agreement with the POSC tenable.

The OGCC has already clarified its earlier stand that policy considerations call for the payment of commissions in the form of reasonable costs, at a rate capped by the PCSO Board of Directors.

Robles qualified that the e-lotto is an exercise of the Board’s sound business judgment to increase sales revenues, by expanding the market for PCSO games using online and digital betting platforms.

He likewise said the PCSO Board, in the exercise of its sound business judgment, previously approved the increase of the minimum guaranteed amount for jackpot prizes for lotto games to increase sales revenues.

He said this resulted in PHP879 million in sales revenues, net of prizes.

Robles said they plan to file counter charges against those behind the "clear smear campaign" against the agency and its officers.

“We will not take this matter sitting down. We will unmask those behind this dubious complaint and file appropriate counter-charges against them,” he said.

Robles noted that the issues in the Ombudsman complaint were already exhaustively discussed and clarified during the previous congressional hearings. (PNA)