By Ben Rosario
Encouraged by the massive employment generated by small town lotto (STL) operations in the countryside, Minority Leader and Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez has sought to expand the anti-jueteng lottery’s reach nationwide.
Suarez said the proposal will help government address the unemployment problem and will serve as an anti-criminality move.
In a recent press conference, Suarez issued a strong appeal to the leadership of the House of Representatives to support two bills he has filed in order to institutionalize gaming in the country.
“During a hearing of the Games and Amusement Committtee about two measures I filed to institutionalize gaming in the country which will gain employment to the marginalized,” he said.
The opposition solon said that it was a known fact that unemployment was a major trigger for criminality, especially the drug trade.
The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) has reported that STL operations have provided jobs to at least 200,000 Filipinos, mostly residing in the countryside.
“We institutionalize this nationwide, we can get as many as 600,000 to 700,000 of our marginal residents in different municipalities employed,” Suarez claimed.
According to Suarez, the PCSO has already “perfected” the STL operations which only “rides” on the legal operations of the lotto.
He, however, lamented that until now, STL remained without legal support as it was still considered still experimental notwithstanding its over a decade operations in the country.
STL has been touted by the PCSO as the form of gaming that will put an end to illegal numbers gambling such as jueteng.
However, a number of congressional inquiries have been initiated due to persistent reports that it is just being used by jueteng operators as a front for their illegal gambling activities.
Questions about its alleged failure to generate enough funds for charity has also been raised.
The PCSO has reportedly been scrimping on financial help for indigents seeking medical attention due to the alleged slow lotto sales that was triggered by the imposition of 20 percent tax on bets and cash prizes to bettors.
Congressional sources said the STL has not been helping generate more charity funds notwithstanding the fact that it has started to get huge following in the provinces.