PCSO:  P650 MILLION  IN LOTTO PRIZES STILL  UNCLAIMED SINCE 10 YEARS

MANILA,
August 12, 2005 
(STAR) By Sheila Crisostomo - Around P650 million in unclaimed Lotto prizes have accumulated since the online lottery began 10 years ago, an official of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) said.

PCSO Chairman Sergio Valencia said the prize money has now reverted to the agency’s charity funds to finance the PCSO’s various programs.

"Under the law, prizes not claimed within one year from the date of draw shall be considered forfeited. It shall then form part of the charity funds of the PCSO," he said in a telephone interview.

Valencia was referring to Republic Act 1169, or the "act providing for charity sweepstakes, horse races and lotteries" which delegates supervision of these games of chance to the PCSO.

"We use these unclaimed prizes to help others as the PCSO is mandated to do," he added.

Created in March 1935, the PCSO is tasked to conduct and finance social welfare projects using the proceeds of its lottery activities.

Projects include endowment fund for hospitals, individual medical assistance, community outreach programs, ambulance donations, aid during national calamity and disaster and mandatory contributions.

In 1995 the PCSO began its online lottery game, popularly known as "Lotto." This involves the games Lotto 6/42, Megalotto 6/45, Superlotto 6/49, Six Digit, Four Digit and Three Digit.

If no one hits the winning combination of numbers, jackpot prizes accumulate by several million pesos per week.

To help the public check past winning numbers, the PCSO has introduced the Enhanced Lottery Information Services.

According to Conrado Zabella, assistant general manager of PCSO’s Online Lottery, those interested in checking previously drawn numbers may text 2219 for Globe, 483 for Smart and 2823 for Sun Cellular.

"Many of them (bettors) just forget to check if their numbers won. Sometimes it takes them several days to realize that a draw had already been made. We decided to come up with this program to make it easy for them to check the winning numbers," he said.

The online inquiry covers draws conducted within the past year.

Zabella said that under the law, 55 percent of the sales must be allocated as prize money while 30 percent is earmarked for charity funds. Only 15 percent is spent on operational expenses and capital expenditures of the PCSO.

He added that last year, the PCSO posted gross receipts of P10 billion.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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