Palace: Arroyo not told of Super Lotto price hike

By Jeannette Andrade, Christine Avendaño, Beverly T. Natividad
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Posted date: January 04, 2008

THE PHILIPPINE Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) maintains that the Palace had been duly informed of the increase in its Super Lotto ticket price for the 6/49 game before it was implemented.PCSO spokesperson Dr. Larry Cedro in a statement said, “The decision to increase the bet price is covered by the necessary board resolutions and the Office of the President has been informed of the matter before its implementation.”

He, however, did not say when the Office of the President was informed of the board resolution which put the bet price increase into effect.

No go-signal
But President Arroyo, however, said she had not been informed of the price hike and wanted PCSO to explain why it doubled the price of its 6/49 lottery tickets, Presidential Management Staff Cerge Remonde said Friday.

Remonde said he was instructed by the President to talk to PCSO chair Sergio Valencia on the increase of the price of the lottery ticket, now selling at P20 from its previous price of P10.

“The President asked me to call up Valencia and find out exactly what had happened,” he told reporters.

The Palace was informed about the ticket price hike and did not give its go-signal, Remonde said.

He reminded reporters that Ms Arroyo was able to stop in August last year a bid of the PCSO to increase ticket prices of not only the 6/49 lottery game but two other lotto games–the 6/42 and 6/45–because “it was brought to our attention before it was implemented.”

And with the ticket price hike on the 6/49 lottery tickets already effective, it was now “fait accompli (an action done and cannot be changed),” he said.

The PCSO doubled the price for the Super Lotto 6/49 game to P20 on Dec. 31, which still took faithful bettors by surprise despite the posted notices on the betting stations. The numbers for the game are drawn on Thursdays and Sundays.

Decision ‘purely corporate’
Cedro said the resolution to double the bet price was “purely corporate” and part of the August 2007 decision of the agency to increase the prices of bets.

He said although President Macapagal-Arroyo “deferred” the price increase in August last year, two board resolutions “525” and “530” series of 2007 duly noted by Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque put into effect the bet increase.

The PCSO spokesperson said with Duque’s signature on the board resolutions, this was understood to mean that due notice had been given to the Office of the President.

According to Cedro, the PCSO falls under the DOH.

PCSO board resolution 525, approved on Oct. 31, 2007, contained the board decision to increase the bet price for the 6/49 game from P10 to P20 effective Jan. 3, 2008. On the other hand, board resolution 530, approved on Nov. 7, 2007, reiterated the first resolution.

“The application of the price increase is on Dec. 31 but the implementation was for the first draw on Jan. 3,” Cedro stressed.

The bet price increase was limited to the 6/49 draw and was implemented for “better market segmentation, more charity assistance, and more exciting games,” Cedro said in a statement.

Please explain
Asked whether the PCSO was required to inform the Palace first before it implements any price change in its lottery tickets, Remonde said, “Not necessarily.”

But he pointed out that the government corporation could authorize such increases under its charter.

Just the same, the President wanted Valencia to explain the price increase because of the “brouhaha” it caused.

Asked whether the Palace could still stop the new increase, Remonde said, “It can” but the Chief Executive would want to get the facts first.

“The President is listening to those who are opposing it; she also wants to listen to the side of PCSO,” he added.

Remonde stressed that the Palace had nothing to do with the new ticket price increase, saying this was an action taken by the PCSO “in the exercise of its own corporate powers.”

Growing demand
In a statement, Cedro explained that the growing demand by middle and high-income earners for bigger jackpots prompted the price change in the 6/49 draw. “By increasing the price bet for Super Lotto 6/49, we were able to encourage middle and higher-income bettors to patronize lotto, even as we continued to provide gaming chances for lower income groups through Mega Lotto 6/45 and the nationwide 6/42,” he said.

Apart from the 6/45 and 6/42 lotto games, the P10 bet was retained for the EZ2 lotto (2 digits), Swertres Lotto (3 digits), as well as the 4-digit and 6-digit games.

He further claimed that the bet increase would allow the PCSO to help the growing number of people, particularly from the members of marginalized sectors, who request medical assistance from the agency.

Cedro added that it would also increase the amount given to people seeking monetary assistance from the PCSO.

More exciting
Citing a previous study, he underscored the necessity to make the 6/49 game more exciting by doubling the minimum pot from P8 million to P16 million.

A study by the Economic Development Foundation, sanctioned by the PCSO some three or four years ago, revealed that 65 percent of bettors want a higher initial pot for all lotto draws while 72 percent want a bigger initial prize for the 6/49 draw.

Lotto ticket prices were supposed to have been doubled on Aug. 15 last year, but President Macapagal-Arroyo stepped in and opposed its implementation after bettors complained about the possible increase.