NEGROS Oriental is among the 56 areas where operation of the small town lottery (STL) was expanded in a bid to increase revenues and to curb illegal gambling.

Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) local branch manager Belena Alvarez said Four Aces, with office in Cebu, has been granted an authority to operate the STL in the province of Negros Oriental.

But the company will have to coordinate with the local branch for the submission of its Presumptive Monthly Retail Receipts (PMRR) or projected monthly income, as among the most important documents needed for the company to start its operations in the province.

At present, 112 lotto outlets are operating in Negros Oriental with no restrictions as to the number of outlets to be established, as long as they comply with the distance requirement, which is 100 meters away from schools and 50 meters away from another lotto outlet.

She said the local branch office is receiving an average of 25 to 30 requests for hospital and medicine assistance every day.

With STL, Alvarez said PCSO will be able to augment funds of medical programs for the poor.

She has in his authority as local branch manager to sign up to P50,000 for hospitalization of local patients.

STL is also aimed at eradicating illegal gambling, locally known as “swertres.”

In STL, 55 percent of the income goes to the prizes, 30 percent to charity and only 15 percent to the operation, while in illegal “swertres,” not a single centavo goes back to the government, she said.

Through the PMRR, the operator is required to submit daily remittances so income can be computed regularly.

Without the PMRR, the authority to operate can be revoked, Alvarez said.

Meanwhile, the church is consistent with its stand against gambling, whether legal or illegal.

Msgr. Gamaliel Tulabing, spokesperson of the Diocese of Dumaguete, said it is immoral, against the true essence of economic development, and against the cultural welfare of the people.

He said gambling per se is not immoral but the way it is done is like exploiting the poor because of a promised pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

In so doing, they will lose their hard-earned money that is supposed to buy food, medicine and other basic needs of the family.

It is against socio-economic development in believing money from the municipalities, cities and the province will only be siphoned out with little amount to come back in terms of ambulances, medicines and hospitalization benefits, instead of money to circulate in the locality.

Msgr. Tulabing also pointed out that instead of developing hard work, gambling entices the poor to bet his last peso with the hope of being the lucky one, not knowing his chances are nil.

As to the distribution of ambulances and hospitalization benefits, Tulabing said he has to see an accounting or paper trail whether the 30 percent really goes to charity.

Meanwhile, Negros Oriental Provincial Police Office (Norppo) acting provincial director Henry Biñas said the command fully supports the expanded operation of STL in the province, saying the purpose is very noble.

He said he is happy the police will have shares from lotto ticket sales, which he said is needed in enhancing their operations, logistics, mobility and even for the purchase of ammunition, as well as the need to conduct more training on investigation and intelligence gathering of the police.

Biñas said there is no need for the creation of a task force because it is part of their mandate.

He described as generally active the illegal “swertres” operations in the province, especially in the hinterland areas.

He said they have a hard time in getting the financiers who operate using guerilla style, inside hotels or pension houses with no paper trail, while the ordinary collectors and ushers are the ones likely to be arrested.

However, the command is doing its best to get the financiers in due time, he added. (PNA)