PCSO loses millions to illegal lottery operations

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Saturday, April 5, 2014


THE Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) in Northern Mindanao has appealed to the police to exert more effort in cracking down on operators of illegal gambling as these are hurting the operations of the legitimate lotto outlets in the region.

Raul Regondola, PCSO-Northern Mindanao branch manager, said Friday that government-recognized lotto outlets’ sales have been affected by illegal lotto stations that have sprouted all over the Northern Mindanao towns and cities lately.

In fact, Regondola said that PCSO-Northern Mindanao's earnings in February this year were only P86 million.

In March this year, PCSO did a little better by raking in around P102 million.

Ideally, he said PCSO-Northern Mindanao's target sales should reach or if not exceed P100 million a month, but now, they would find it hard to earn that much since the illegal lotto outlets started operating.

"Before, we used to earn as much as P136 million a month. Hindi pa nagbalik yung sales naming ganun,” Regondola said.

Regondola said the police are doing their job but he added that they should make more arrests to stop the proliferation of illegal gambling operations especially in Cagayan de Oro.

While law enforcers had arrested ambulant illegal gambling agents, he said the police should go after illegitimate lotto outlets since their earnings can really affect the legal lotto stations.

Regondola said it would not be hard for the police to secure a search warrant from the court if they have identified these illegal lotto outlets.

If the police raided an illegal lotto outlet but failed to secure a warrant, then technically, the raid is futile, he said.

He said the failure of authorities to crack down on these illicit lotto betting places will just embolden them to expand their operation since they are confident they can just get away with it on a technicality.

Regondola said it’s the people who will be affected most from these illegal operations since part of the lotto proceeds go to charities and medical services.

Impact

In an interview with the local media on Thursday, Jose Ferdinand Rojas II, PCSO general manager, said that if the sales of the legal lotto outlets are low, then it would have an impact on the amount they could allocate for patients needing medical assistance and donations like ambulances and medical equipment.

“Dahil habang lumalaki ang kita namin, lumalaki din ang ipamimigay naming na tulong. But pag bumababa, liliit din ang ipamimigay namin for medical services,” Rojas said.

Recently, Regondola said it is not only the unlawful lotto operations that are giving PCSO the headache, but he also noted the entry of another gambling racket called “Lucky 9” into the city.

“People, especially those seeking medical assistance, are talking about it. They told us of these various illegal gambling operations taking place in the city,” Regondola said.

He said if these illegal gambling operations could not be eradicated, all PCSO wanted is for the authorities to disallow these illicit lotto outlets from doing their business near the legitimate ones.

“If these illegal lotto outlets don’t operate near our outlets, then we will not be losing that much,” he said.

Regondola said PCSO has already helped thousands of people but these illegal gambling operators don’t, adding these people don’t give back part of their profits to the government either through charity or taxes.

“I am urging the people to support PCSO and only place their bets on legal lotto outlets,” he said.

For his part, Rojas said they are coordinating with the Philippine National Police (PNP) and local government officials to curb these illegal activities that are threatening the operations of the PCSO.

“Nagde-decrease ang sales ng ilang mga produkto natin, at yan ang gusto natin mawasak po kaya kami nakipag-coordinate kay Mayor Oscar Moreno at nga ibang mga local PNP officials,” Rojas added.

Rojas said since the PCSO has no police power, all they have to do is refer these violators to the PNP and LGUs.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on April 05, 2014.

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