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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Solons seek revocation of small town lottery franchise of CamSur operator

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BICOLANO congressmen on Tuesday backed the call of the Camarines Sur governor for the revocation of the Small Town Lottery (STL) franchise of the current operator in the province as granted by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).

Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte led the legislators from the province in asking President Marcos to immediately scrap the franchise of Evenchance Gaming Corp. as the STL operator licensed by the PCSO.

In a statement, Villafuerte accused Evenchance of “consistent and flagrant” violations, “including fronting for illegal gambling and skimming multimillion-peso monthly revenue due the government.”

In a joint letter recently sent to the President, through PCSO general manager Melquiades Robles, the lawmakers asked that alongside the revocation of its franchise as an Authorized Agent Corporation (AAC) for  STL  in Camarines Sur, Evenchance should also be “blacklisted or barred from  doing any business anywhere in the country, and be slapped criminal and civil charges for    its repeated violations of  STL’s Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations, along with the laws.”

“We respectfully implore your good Office to permanently blacklist, immediately revoke the franchise and to prohibit Evenchance from operating in the entire country for its consistent and flagrant violations of our laws,” Villafuerte said in a joint letter to the President, also signed by Camarines Sur Reps. Miguel Luis Villafuerte and Tsuyoshi Anthony Horibata as well as Bicol Saro party-list Rep. Brian Raymund Yamsuan.

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“We  express full support to the pleas of the People of Camarines Sur, as expressed through Gov. Vincenzo Renato Luigi Villafuerte, who earlier wrote to your good office, and who, in detail, provided clear and convincing evidence of Evenchance’s continuous and glaring violations of the implementing rules governing  STL  operations,” the legislators letter read. 

The automatic termination of Evenchance’s Agency Agreement with PCSO as its AAC for  STL  in the province, the legislators said,  “is without prejudice to the filing of the appropriate civil and criminal actions” against it for its well-documented law and implementing rules violations, which also includes “manipulating sales reports,” providing “false or incorrect” information on  STL  operations, and hiring of minors as bet collectors and collection of bets from minors.

Evenchance’s franchise as an AAC of the PCSO for  STL  in CamSur is set to expire on February 18, 2024.

“Given the above violations which have been documented since 2017 up to the present, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan    (SP) enacted Resolution 281, Series of 2023 imploring His Excellency to immediately cause the revocation and cancellation of Evenchance’s franchise through the PCSO and to cause the inclusion of the same corporation in the government’s blacklist,” Villafuerte and the three other congressmen said.

“We likewise express our full support of this Resolution,” they added, which is “a reflection of the voice of the people of CamSur who no longer want Evenchance to continue in its operations in the Province. As their public servants, it is incumbent upon us to relay their message to you, Mr. President, and to respectfully implore you to heed the pleas of our People … They are all clamoring for immediate revocation of Evenchance’s franchise and for the said corporation to be placed the government’s blacklist, to prevent it from committing the same violations in other LGUs.”

In a Dec. 22 letter to the President, also sent through PCSO’s Robles, Gov. Villafuerte sought the immediate revocation of Evenchance’s franchise on the basis of (1) its “consistent violation”    of the  STL  RIRR, (2) “highly doubtful” remittance to the LGU of the rightful government share of income from  STL  operations, (3) and its being an “alleged prime suspect” in the gruesome death of former Vice Mayor Raul Delfin Divinagracia of the province’s capital town of Pili.

“Despite being the previous subject of a congressional inquiry … the violations being committed have now even glaringly escalated, as Evenchance is now associated with threats and violence in the province,” the governor said in his separate letter to the President. “With the RIRR governing  STL  now in place, it is respectfully submitted that Evenchance’s actions constitute both major and minor offenses.”

The governor recalled that on account of Evenchance’s violations, the SP of CamSur enacted Resolution No. 281 seeking the revocation of its PCSO franchise and its inclusion on the government’s blacklist.

In SP Resolution 281, the provincial Sanggunian said the termination of Evenchance’s AA with the PCSO should lead to a halt in its operation as an AAC, forfeiture of its cash bond by way of penalty (after satisfying all its obligations due the PCSO), confiscation of the draw machines and  STL  paraphernalia and identification cards (IDs) of its sales force, and its    disqualification from applying again as with the PCSO an AAC in the future.

From the start of Evenchance’s operation as an AAC in 2017 up to 2022, Gov. Villafuerte said in his Dec. 22 letter to the President that Evenchance “has been grossly misdeclaring its collections in order to deprive    the government of its rightful share from  STL  operations,” based on its “extremely doubtful” reports to the Office of the Provincial Treasurer.

“These figures readily show that Evenchance’s remittances pre-pandemic, during the pandemic and post-pandemic  do not accurately reflect a significant and commensurate increase in sales,” said the governor.

“A cursory look at the collection remitted which only hovers around P312,000 a day. This amount is a far cry from the actual income of Evenchance, which, on account of the three draws being conducted daily, easily earns millions of pesos on a daily basis,”    he added.

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