MANILA, Philippines – After targeting illegal online gambling businesses, the government will investigate small town lottery (STL) operations across the country.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said Malacañang has created a task force to look into STL operations – specifically those which are not paying the right taxes. The task force will be headed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.
President Rodrigo Duterte, according to Aguirre, himself ordered the probe into STL operators and instructed the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to apprehend those responsible for the “billions” of pesos lost by the government due to these operations.
Duterte, added Aguirre, also wants to increase government revenues from STL operations as only 10% to 15% of the total revenues were remitted to the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) during the previous administration.
Aguirre said the additional revenues will be used to provide free medicines.
The Duterte administration earlier issued new implementing rules and regulations (IRR) raising the minimum remittance of STL operations in the Philippines.
“The IRR already took effect and has so far resulted to unprecedented high collections in the first few months of operations under [the] Duterte administration,” Aguirre said.
STL had been created by the government to counter jueteng, but there are reports that STL franchise holders actually operate jueteng using government permits.
The start of the probe into STL operations is already delayed, Aguirre admitted, since Duterte issued his orders a few months ago.
Last December, controversy surrounding Chinese mogul Jack Lam and his gaming operations in the Philippines also broke out, with Duterte ordering Lam’s arrest. (READ: Macau’s top gambling tycoon: Who is Jack Lam?)
Lam, who owns a company that is reportedly the “largest VIP junket operator in Asia,” is accused of bribery and economic sabotage for allegedly attempting to offer money to government officials over the arrest of more than 1,300 Chinese nationals illegally working at Fontana Leisure Parks and Casino in Pampanga. – Rappler.com