The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) has vowed to battle illegal numbers games in the Philippines through the “new and improved” small town lottery (STL), local media reports.
STL was first introduced in 2006 to battle the rise of “jueteng” – an illegal numbers game popular in the country. However instead, it became a legal front for illegal gambling operations, which in turn made other localities wary of allowing STL operations.
The game went under a test run for nine years before being made a regular game in 2015.
But Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) chair Jose Jorge Corpuz said his plan was actually to give illegal gambling operators a chance to go mainstream by being partners of PCSO, rather than its competitor.
“The best manifestation of our action and battle against illegal gambling is when the illegal becomes legal. They will become our partners now,” Corpuz said.
Any illegal operators who don’t conform by next year will be considered illegal and their operators will have to face the police’s “all-out war” against illegal gambling, he said.
According to Corpuz, PCSO officials had met with illegal gambling operators, who have vowed to support the STL.
A total of 224 STL applicants are undergoing strict evaluation by the PCSO, he said.
All STL applicants must be 100-percent Filipino-owned corporations or cooperatives whose primary purpose is to operate STL games. They must also have authorized capital stock of P50 million, with a minimum paid-up capital of P15 million.
“If you continue to be in illegal gambling despite the warning of the President to stop it, you will be in a very serious trouble… Just look at the government’s campaign against illegal drugs,” he warned.
The new STL is expected to launch next month nationwide to be implemented in 2017.