Friday, April 19, 2024

PCSO enters digital era as e-Lotto starts test run

From sweepstakes tickets to lotto and now online lotto, the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) officially moved into the online world on Friday, Dec. 15, as it announced the test run of its Web-based betting platform called E-Lotto.

The E-Lotto, which is a digital version of the traditional lottery games, will be initially available on the Web via the PCSO website with Android and iOS apps expected to become available early next year.

“E-Lotto is a significant milestone for PCSO as we embrace the digital era and cater to the evolving needs of our players,” stated PCSO general manager Mel Robles.

“With E-Lotto, players can now conveniently place bets, choose their lucky numbers, and win cash prizes from the comfort of their own homes.”

During the trial run, which will last for one year, players can already place bets online and also receive payments for their winnings electronically through their e-wallets. However, for prizes above P300,000, the winning bettor has to claim it at the PCSO main office in Mandaluyong City.  

To register, bettors need to undergo identity and age verification. They also need to have a GCash account although the PCSO said negotiations are underway to introduce additional third-party gateway payments such as banks and other e-wallet providers.

PCSO officials stressed that only Filipinos and foreigners residing in the Philippines are allowed to participate in E-Lotto. Filipinos who are based abroad like OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) can also bet online as long as they have Philippine-government issued ID cards and SIM cards issued by local telcos.   

Asked if the E-Lotto may eat up the revenues of existing lotto outlets, Robles said the experience of other lotto operators in other countries has shown that the bigger pot enabled by online betting has not affected the profits of physical outlets. It has, in fact, pulled more people to place their bets in the outlets or online, he added.

“As you can see, online e-commerce shops have proliferated but shopping malls such as SM are still there,” he said.

Robles said that as of now, only 2 percent of the local population is betting in physical outlets. He said that if this will increase to even just 30 or 50 percent, the PCSO could offer bigger winnings on a more frequent basis.   

Right now, the PCSO said the draw dates will remain the same with the E-Lotto just becoming an additional mode of betting for the traditional lotto.

The trial run of E-Lotto will be operated by local firm Pacific Online Systems Corporation (POSC), which signed last Aug. 30 a memorandum of agreement with PCSO.

According to the PCSO, there were three proponents who expressed their interest in the project but picked POSC since it “has the capability, readily available systems, and compliance with the required technical guidelines.”

The POSC, a company owned by businessman Willy Ocier, will act as the exclusive agent during the one-year test run. It did not charge the government for the online system but will earn from the 14% commission it will charge of every bet coursed through online.   

The contractor has assured that the backend system is attack-proof and has undergone stringent vulnerability testing with cybersecurity firms and the Department of Information and Communications Technology.

It also said that the registration process creates multiple layers of identity verification, making it significantly challenging for minors to bypass the system. The system can also suspend and perpetually block an account if any misrepresentation is found on the player’s part.

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