Approval sought for bill prohibiting online lotto betting

Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star
Approval sought for bill prohibiting online lotto betting
Individuals purchase a lotto ticket at a Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) lotto outlet in Quezon City on September 28, 2023
STAR / Cesar Ramirez

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives committee on games and amusement has sought the approval of the whole chamber for a proposed bill prohibiting online placing of bets for all lotto games, a system that the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) had wanted to introduce.

In Committee Report No. 773, the panel chaired by Cavite 6th District Rep. Antonio Ferrer recommended the approval of House Bill 9283 sponsored by Representatives Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro City (2nd District), Augustina Dominique Pancho of Bulacan (2nd District) and Gus Tambunting of Parañaque City (2nd District).

The proposed measure stated that placing of lotto bets should be done “physically and only at authorized lotto outlets.”

The bill recommended that “online placing of bets through mobile phones, laptops, tablets, personal computers and other similar gadgets for all lotto games” shall be prohibited.

This restriction is intended to prevent the exposure/involvement of the youth and children to application-based betting.

It shall also prevent the “irrelevant and eventual extinction of lotto agents due to the digitalization of lotto games.”

“Any change in the system and procedures to play all lotto games, which have impact on revenue generation, livelihood of the lotto agents and the charity mandate of the PCSO, shall be made public to the affected stakeholders and subject to the approval of the Office of the President,” the bill read.

At an earlier hearing of the committee, Pancho and Rodriguez warned against a plan of the PCSO to have application-based or web-based lotto betting, saying it would open gambling to minors.

Rodriguez said that while such plan would generate more funds for the PCSO, it would be doing “greatest disadvantages” to Filipino families.

He pointed out that considering that even kindergarten children in the country already have mobile phones, gambling would be easily accessible to them.

Pancho, on the other hand, had cautioned on the possible impact of online betting among those working in physical lotto outlets.

She said that lotto agents are small entrepreneurs, who invest their small savings or earnings as lotto agents.

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