Is someone gaming the PCSO lotto?

Isagani de Castro Jr.

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Is someone gaming the PCSO lotto?

BETS. A lotto kiosk in Manila.

Pacific Online

(1st UPDATE) A wealthy bettor can spend P280 million on all 14 million combinations in the 6/49 lotto in order to win, which Senator Raffy Tulfo says is unfair

That’s what Senator Raffy Tulfo wants to know after several major lotto draws produced winners of over P500-million each in a span of three weeks.

On his radio show Tulfo in Action on Friday, January 19, the first-term senator said he wants to dig deeper into why the PCSO raised the jackpot by huge amounts for each for its major lotto games in December and early January instead of letting the pot grow from the lotto bets.

The PCSO raised on December 16, 2023 the minimum guaranteed jackpot for the Grand Lotto 6/55, Ultra Lotto 6/58, Super Lotto 6/49 by P500 million each, and P100 million each for Lotto 6/42 and MegaLotto 6/45 as part of its Christmas and New Year draws.

On December 29, 2023, a lone bettor won P571 million in the Ultra Lotto 6/58, the biggest jackpot in 2023.

On Tuesday, January 16, 2024, a bettor won P640 million with the combination 26-33-14-48-06-42 in the Super Lotto 6/49 draw.

On Wednesday, January 17, another lone bettor hit the Grand Lotto 6/55 with the correct combination of 24-50-52-09-51-03 through PCSO’s new E-Lotto platform.

Three bettors, meantime, won in the Lotto 6/42 jackpot on January 2 with a prize of P108 million. 

Two people split the Megalotto 6/45 jackpot of P121 million on January 8.

Tulfo said boosting the jackpot allows wealthy bettors to win the big lotto prizes.

“Ang purpose nila, kaya nila dinagdagan, para magkaroon ng excitement at maraming tataya. Na usually, dapat, hayaan mo lang tumaas ‘yung pot base dun sa mga tumataya. Habang tumatagal, tumataas ‘yung pot. Ang ginawa nung December, pinalobo ‘yung pot, especially ‘yung 6/49. Dinagdagan ng P500 million – boom. ‘Pag dagdag ng P500 million, may nanalo,” he said.

(Their purpose in boosting the pot is to have excitement so that many will bet. Usually, they should just let the pot grow big from the bets. As the betting goes on, the pot expands. What they did last December, they ballooned the pot, especially the 6/49. They added P500 million, boom. When they added P500 million, someone won.)

Tulfo, who admitted that he used to play lotto and had once won around P500,000 around a decade ago, said a bettor can place bets on all 14 million combinations in the 6/49. At P20 per combination, a rich bettor would need P280 million to win. If he is the sole winner of P640 million, he or she takes home a whopping P360 million before tax (20%).

“Kung ‘di nagdagdag ng P500 million, ang pot lang dapat was only P130 million-something. So kung P120 million or something ang pot, tumaya ka ng P280 million, lugi ka pa. Kaya ang ginawa, nagdagdag ng P500 million para may ganansiya,” he said. 

(If they did not add P500 million, the pot would have been just P130 million-something, So if it’s just P120 million and you spend P280 million, you lose. So, what they did, they added P500 million to generate interest.)

Nothing wrong, says PCSO GM

PCSO General Manager Mel Robles, in an interview on GMA’s Unang Hirit on Thursday, said betting on all combinations to win is allowed, but it carries a big risk because if there’s more than one winner, the wealthy bettor stands to lose big.

“In the case of 6/49, interesting ito, 14 million ang odds. At P20, that’s only P280 million, eh ang pot mo ay P600 million. Kaya po talaga theoretically [to bet on all combinations and win]. Kaya lang, ‘pag may nakahati ka, dalawa o tatlo, lugi ka na, so talagang chance pa rin,” he said. (In the case of 6/49, this is interesting, the odds are 14 million. At P20, that’s only P280 million, but your pot is P600 million. That’s why theoretically, it’s really possible [to bet on all combinations and win]. But if you have to share it with two, or three, you already lose, so it’s really still chance.)

Robles told Radyo5 on Friday that the PCSO used its prize reserve fund to jack up the pot last December to generate interest in the games. He said this strategy was also done by his predecessors, and he expects the PCSO to generate a billion in revenues in December alone and possibly in January too as more people joined the games. For instance, the PCSO recorded P265 million in one-day sales on Tuesday, the state-owned gaming firm said.

Robles denied that someone was rigging the system, and lamented that not an “iota of evidence” has been presented.

“Having frequent winners is not an indication na may nangyayaring masama. Meron din naman time na ang tagal-tagal walang nananalo eh what do you call that?” Robles said.

(Having frequent winners is not an indication that something bad is happening. There are times when it takes a long time to have winners, so what do you call that?)

Tulfo, however, wants to stop PCSO from using this strategy of boosting the pot since it’s helping wealthy bettors get rich. He suggested using PCSO’s reserve fund to help those in need.

“Ang tanong: legal ba ‘yun base sa charter ng PCSO? Patatanggal ko po ‘yan, na ‘wag ka nang magdagdag sa prize fund. Bigay mo na lang sa mahirap, sa charity, ospital, nangangailangan ng gamot, dialysis, imbes na isa lang ang manalo,” he said.

(Question is: is it legal to do that based on the PCSO charter? I will have that removed, they should not add to the prize fund. Just give it to the poor, to charity, hospitals, those who need medicines, dialysis, instead of having just one winner.)

A Senate hearing will be held on this on Thursday, January 25, Tulfo said.

Meantime, Senate Minority Leader Koko Pimentel said they will also probe whether PCSO’s e-lotto platform can be used to bet on all combinations. 

“Iniimbestiga na natin yan. Nagiging mas madali ba sa bettor na magtaya nga ng ganyan na all combinations? Yan ang magandang tanong….,” Pimentel told Radyo5 on Monday, January 22. “That is one of the angles na dapat tingnan.” 

(We’re investigating that. Is it now easier for a bettor to bet on all combinations? That’s a good question…That’s one of the angles that should be looked into.) 

It’s also possible, he said, that it’s not just one person placing a bet on all combinations in order to win but that it could be a group. 

“Ang sabi ko nga, ‘wag lang magisip na isang tao lang s’ya, what if you’re a group? Let us say wala yung feature [in e-lotto] na you can place your bets on all combinations pero if you’re a group, nagtutulungan ba kayo para cover n’yo all bets, all possible combinations?” Pimentel said.

(As I said, don’t think that it’s just one person, what if you’re a group? Let us say there’s no feature [in e-lotto] that you can place your bets on all combinations but if you’re a group, are you helping each other in order to cover all bets, all possible combinations?) – Rappler.com

Company behind Philippine lotto system hits jackpot in 2023

Company behind Philippine lotto system hits jackpot in 2023

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Isagani de Castro Jr.

Before he joined Rappler as senior desk editor, Isagani de Castro Jr. was longest-serving editor in chief of ABS-CBN News online. He had reported for the investigative magazine Newsbreak, Asahi Shimbun Manila, and Business Day. He has written chapters for books on politics, international relations, and civil society.