STL to go full throttle in Bicol
By Mar S. Arguelles LEGAZPI CITY ---- The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO)-sponsored Small Town Lottery (STL) went into full gear in four Bicol mainland provinces following the launching of its two number combination daily lottery draw in Albay last week, a PCSO top official disclosed yesterday. Nelly Loyola, PCSO Albay branch manager said the STL draws in the province will be operated by Lucky V Prime Enterprise Corp. whose president and corporate secretary, respectively, are German Alimania, President Alexander Javier, both reportedly coming from Quezon province. Loyola in an interview said Lucky V was issued a franchise by the PCSO Central Office to operate STL in the 15 towns and three cities of Albay after the company submitted and complied with the necessary financial and operational requirements. Lucky V kicked off last Friday, May 12, by conducting the first draw at 12:00 noon of that day at its office along Benny Imperial Road. Three draws will subsequently be drawn daily at the following time intervals: 12:00 noon, 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., Loyola said. She explained two winning combinations will be picked up from the draw composed of number combinations from 1 to 38. When asked about how the daily draws would be managed, Loyola said it would be supervised by two PCSO representatives, two draw officials from the Lucky V and four judges from the public sector. Results of the daily draw will be shown publicly through a CCTV network and through the different radio and TV stations operating in Albay. When asked how the STL works differently from jueteng, the illegal numbers game, Loyola said: First, STL is legal since its authorized by the PCSO; second, STL daily draws are open to the public, unlike jueteng where draws are conducted under the shadows of illegal operators who run away from law enforcers; third, STL creates livelihood opportunity to a network of bet collectors, complete with uniforms and accredited ID cards without fear of being arrested by the police while plying their trade. She added that to check the authenticity of their bets, the bettor would be issued a receipt where their choice number combinations are indicated. The STL operator expects to generate at least P2.5M in daily draws in Albay, Loyola said. A lottery aficionado who asked not to be named, on the other hand, estimates that like jueteng, the illegal numbers games would rake in about P3M to P4M in bet collections a day. But he doubted that STL operation would eventually end jueteng operation in Albay, or in any other province in Bicol. He added STL operation may likely spawn illegally operated ‘bookies’ or bet collection points while they operate in disguise as STL collectors in far-flung villages across the region. STL operations As the PCSO-sponsored STL operation has formally started in Albay, lottery draws have regularly been conducted in the provinces of Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, and Sorsogon. STL operations will soon open in the island provinces of Masbate and Catanduanes by the end of the month as the PCSO is just waiting for the authorized operator to submit their post-approval requirements. STL remits part of its revenues to the host Local Government Unit (LGU). According to Loyola, revenues generated from STL would assist the 15 towns and three cities in Albay in pursuing health care and other charitable projects as the PCSO releases a monthly revenue of 3 percent share from the 30 percent net sales collected from operator Lucky V operator to towns and cities of the province. Specifically, a 1-percent share will also go to the province. The Philippine National Police (PNP) will be entitled to a 2.5 percent share from the 30 percent net sales collected, while the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) would receive a 5 percent monthly prize fund share from the 55 percent net sales collected by PCSO. STL vs Meridian Vista Gaming Loyola would not comment when asked on the other numbers being operated by the Meridien Vista Gaming Corp (MVGC), that apparently will compete with the government-sponsored STL in Albay. She said only the STL is authorized by the PCSO to operate in Albay while the MVGC franchise was issued by the Cagayan Valley Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) and sanctioned by a Games and Amusement Board (GAB). MVGC is rumored to be owned by businessman Charlie ‘Atong’ Ang. While its principal gaming operation of Jai-Alai is actually based in Cagayan, satellite offices located in various provinces are acting as betting stations, according to media reports. The license obtained by Meridien allows it to exclusively operate Jai-Alai, its variants, and derivatives in the CEZA and Freeport and in support thereof, to set up wagering stations anywhere in the Philippines as may be allowed by law. The betting stations or off-fronton established have secured the corresponding Mayor’s permits. The secured permits are good for one year -- from Oct. 31, 2016, to Oct. 31, 2017, a source added. The government rpeortedly has already assailed the legitimacy of MVGC’s business operation before the courts of law and the status of the cases remains to be pending. Unless and until the courts have decided the issue with finality, the gaming operation of MVGC, through the permits and licenses secured from CEZA, remains to be valid and effective, as it carries with it the presumption of regularity, it was alleged.