By LITO RULONA
DESPITE a supposed police crackdown, illegal gambling operations have remained unabated in the city and small town lottery (STL) operations have aggravated the situation in that it thinned the line between what is legal and illegal, Councilor George Goking said on Friday.
Goking’s committee is set to summon STL operators and officials of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) to answer questions about what the councilor said was their unregulated operations in the city.
During the committee’s meeting, Goking said illegal gambling operations have continued to thrive in the city in the guise of STL.
“Wala kita nakabalo kung kinsa ang legal and illegal ani nga mga operation tungod kay wala kahibalo ang city hall kay wala sila ma-register. Many of them operate in the streets. Naa pud sila’y contribution sa kahugaw tungod sa ilang mga outlet,” Goking said.
He said the local government should assert that STL operations should be subjected to its rules because these are taking place within its territorial jurisdiction.
Goking said STL operators must be compelled to secure city hall permits.
Under the current set-up, he said, local governments are not given sufficient authority to ensure that the STL outlets doing business in the localities are legally doing so or are accredited by PCSO.
Goking said the STL operators should be registered with city hall. This way, he said, city hall could go after illegal gambling operators and their organizations and at the same time, increase its revenues.
“We have no control. How many are they? It seems now that there are more illegal STL operators in the city than the legal ones,” he said.
The PCSO said the STL expansion nationwide is aboveboard and is meant to eradicate all illegal numbers games by providing a legal alternative that would also generate more funds for the government.
The PCSO said it was evaluating 224 STL applicants for the expansion of the operation of the legal numbers game of the government-run charity agency.
The new system aims at legalizing the existing illegal numbers game in every region, like jueteng in Luzon and masiao and swertres in the Visayas and Mindanao.