The Beginning of Lotteries in the Philippines


PCSO Main Office Historically, lotteries have been in existence in the Philippines as early as 1833. Under the auspices of private enterprises called Empresa de Reales Loteria Espanolas de Filipinas, the Spanish Government conducted loterias to generate revenues. In fact, our own national hero Dr. Jose Rizal won Php 6,200.00 in the draw of 1892, while on exile in Dapitan. He donated his winnings to an educational project. This altruistic act gives an inkling of what could be done if the lottery was harnessed for charitable and social welfare projects.

With the outbreak of the Philippine Revolution, the loteria was forced to stop operations. And it was not until the early 1930s that the idea of holding lottery games was revived. In 1932, the first Sweepstakes draw was conducted by the government to raise funds to support sports projects for the Filipino youth through the Philippine Amateur Athletic Federation (PAAF) - the beneficiary of the first draw.

The PAAF Sweepstakes was successful so Philippine government decided to conduct more draws for the benefit of the Philippine Anti-Tuberculosis Society, now the Philippine Tuberculosis Society (PTS). The draws were held under the auspices of an organization called the National Charity Sweepstakes.


The New Sweepstakes Agency

Rather than limit the sweepstakes to the benefit of the youth or to fighting tuberculosis, the country's legislators thought of institutionalizing the Sweepstakes as a new venture of raising funds for the promotion of public health and general welfare.

By March 1935, then President Manuel L. Quezon approved Act 4130 - the law passed by the Philippine Legislature in October 30, 1934 creating the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes, replacing the then National Charity Sweepstakes. Under this law, the new organization was authorized to secure from the National Treasury a loan amounting to Php250,000.00, the minimum amount required for organizing the office and printing the tickets for the draw.

On September 8, 1935, the new agency held its first Sweepstakes draw. Needless to say, the loan was paid back in less than two months and shortly after the note was signed, proceeds from the sales started pouring in. The mandate of the Sweepstakes found acceptance among the Filipino people; its humanitarian mission readily won public trust and support.

Among its beneficiaries then were the Philippine Amateur Athletic Federation (PAAF), the Philippine Tuberculosis Society (PTS), the National Federation of Women's Clubs, the Association de Damas de Filipinas, the Gota de Leche, the Associate of Manila and the Provinces, the Philippine Council of Boy Scouts of America, the Asilo Para Invalidos de los Veteranos de la Revolucion, the Child Welfare Center and other institutions and organizations engaged in charitable and health work, or work for the improvement of the conditions of the indigent Filipino masses.

On June 18,1954, Republic Act 1169 was enacted into law providing for charity sweepstakes and lotteries once a month when there are no Sweepstakes draws and races.

The PCSO has since remained to be an indispensable charity arm of the government, frequently summoned to provide funding for essential health and welfare activities and projects nationwide.


Bigger Share for Charity

In September 1979, Batas Pambansa Blg.42 was enacted into law amending the PCSO Charter (RA 1169). The law raised the fund allocation for the agency's Charity Fund from the previous 25% of net sales to 30%, while 55% now went to prizes and the remaining 15% for operations. On top of the 30% share from net receipts, all unclaimed prizes go to the Charity Fund.

Since then, the frequency of draws was also increased. Draws were held every week all year round, not to mention the special draws like the Php20 million - Freedom Draw held every February 25, the Php5 million draws, and the Php25 million - Christmas Draws. Despite the notable up-trend in sweepstakes activity, the growing number of requests for greater financial assistance from all over the country has been outstripping the earnings from ticket sales.

During the administration of then President Fidel V. Ramos, the PCSO was mandated to undertake a very important mission: to support government's rehabilitation program for the areas devastated by the Mt. Pinatubo eruption. As an adjunct to this, President Ramos issued Proclamation No. 51, "Exhorting the public and private sectors to support the PCSO Special Pinatubo Lottery Draw scheduled on October 22, 1992 to raise charity funds for the victims of the Mt. Pinatubo eruption." That was the first of a series of draws the PCSO had embarked on to raise the Php350 million which was disbursed later to the President's Calamity Fund.

On February 14,1993, the PCSO conducted the first of a series of draws to support the Cordillera Autonomous Region Livelihood Project - a project that provides our Filipino brothers and sisters in the Cordilleras the opportunity to work and to develop themselves as productive entrepreneurs of the community.

As embodied in its charter, the PCSO's primary objective is to provide funds for health programs, medical assistance and services and charities of national character. The PCSO's mandate sets the pace for the development of community health care in all the regional hospitals nationwide through the establishment of Tuberculosis Centers, Cancer and Pain Centers, and Dialysis Centers that deliver vital medical assistance and services to the people.


New Lotteries

Under its amended charter, the PCSO has the authority "... to hold and conduct lotteries and similar activities" to generate funds. Lottery, in Philippine jurisprudence, is defined "as... a scheme for the distribution of prizes by chance among persons who have paid, or agreed to pay a valuable consideration for the chance to obtain a prize."

For over fifty years the traditional Sweepstakes was the PCSO's sole source of revenue. Clearly it was time to innovate, to introduce modern lottery games, and to experiment.

Given its mounting financial commitments to its beneficiaries, the PCSO needed additional sources of Funds.

The PCSO's first innovation was the Instant Sweepstakes, a variant of the national lottery game. Patterned after a similar game in the United States of America which contributed US$476 million to the US Department of Education, the Instant Sweepstakes was launched in mid-1987. By the end of the year. Instant Sweepstakes was able to generate an additional Php27 million for the PCSO Charity Fund.

Another innovation tried by the PCSO was the Small Town Lottery (STL). It was meant to generate more funds to provide greater help to the local projects. With the use of computers and new technology, the STL also aimed to eradicate jueteng, masiao, and other similar illegal number games that were rampant in the countryside.

To bolster its integrity and credibility, the PCSO introduced live television coverage of its draws and implement other innovative security measures such as replacement of judges for each draw.


The Lotto

In 1995 during the incumbency of then Chairman Manuel L Morato, the PCSO launched the very first On-Line lottery in the Philippines. Similar to the successful games run in the U.S., Europe and Australia, the On-line lottery, better known as the lotto brought a new dimension of fun and excitement for the betting public. In this computerized gaming, initially the Lotto 6/42, the player chooses any set of 6 numbers from 1 to 42 and wins when these numbers are drawn in any sequence during the draw date.

The lotto was a big hit despite strong opposition from certain quarters. Its legality was questioned but the Supreme Court ruled that the new lottery was legal. Since then, more lottery game forms have been added such as the three-digit (3D), the four -digit (4D), the six-digit (6D), the Mega Lotto 6/45 and the Super Lotto 6/49 draw.


Improving the Sweepstakes

Even with the successful operation of the lotto, the PCSO is taking steps to improve the traditional Sweepstakes to make it more competitive. The sales of Sweepstakes tickets has been automated at the point of sale, and the entire financial system has been computerized. Not only does this ensure better management of the game, but it likewise lengthens the ticket selling period. Significantly, the computerization has enhanced the product's integrity and image. To complete the facelift, the Sweepstakes tickets have come out with a new design.

In March 1998, the new Bonus Sweepstakes "Doble Panalo" was launched to make the Sweepstakes more appealing to the public. The new game is a combination of Sweepstakes and Instant Win where players can have the chance to win twice with a purchase of just one share worth Php10.00. Prizes include over Php3 million in the Sweepstakes and over Php550,000 prizes in the Match & Win portion.

These game enhancement are expected to yield greater revenues that will likewise dramatically give impetus to the PCSO's avowed commitment to support its ever-growing number of beneficiaries and programs.


Other PCSO Services

Undoubtedly one of the most effective means of pursuing the agency's commitment to the Filipino people is charity through free medical and dental services.

Initially serving its officials and employees, referrals and walk-ins, the PCSO Charity Clinic's services have now expanded to include the depressed barangays in Metro Manila to as far as Sorsogon in the South and Isabela in the North. A total of twenty-six (26) outreach missions have been conducted during the first year of the program. Currently, a total of 117,001 medical patients and 28,292 dental patients have benefited from these undertakings (figures as of 2001).

The Out-Patient Clinic Department of the PCSO renders services from Monday to Friday to thousands of indigent patients at the PCSO Dental and Clinic Department in Gate 6, City Hall, Kalayaan St., Quezon City.. The clinic department offers the following services: free consultations, minor surgeries, ambulance conduction of patients and emergency care as well as referrals. It also undertakes community outreach projects in Maternal and Child Health and Primary Health Care. A total of 36,911 medical and 18,965 dental patients have been the recipient of this endeavor (as of 2001).

Since the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo, the PCSO has so far released Php400 million as direct assistance to the victims and to the various Pinatubo-related programs of the Office of the President. In the Ormoc disaster, the PCSO shelled out Php48.5 million to the affected families apart from the financial assistance given to the community. In the lloilo fire disaster, victims were provided financial assistance amounting to Php1.5 million. In the Ozone fire tragedy of March 1996, which claimed the lives of over 150 people and injured close to 200 persons, most of them were students, the PCSO also came to the rescue by providing the families of the victims with financial, funeral and medical assistance amounting to more than P6 million pesos.

Starting with just two beneficiaries - the Philippine Tuberculosis Society and Hospicio de San Jose - the PCSO now has a long list of beneficiaries that include the Red Cross, Blood Bank, National Mental Hospital, Boys' Town in Marikina, Missionaries of Charity in Cebu, Golden Acres, Tala Leprosarium, Commission on Family Life in Laoag City, Bacolod Boys' Home in Negros Occidental, Dominican Missionaries' Stela Maris Nursery, Leprosarium in Zamboanga City, Daughter of Mary, Mother of the Church in Naga City, nutrition centers, rural health clinics, government hospitals and many others which total more than 8,000 beneficiaries.