The lottery—which thrives on the very notion of fortune and chance—has proven to be one of the few businesses that can withstand even the worst economic conditions. “In our experience, a lot more people place their hopes on lotto during economic hardships. It’s safe to say that our sales remain stable,” says Arnel Casas, the current OIC of the Gaming Technology Department of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).
In fact, lotto sales tend to go higher whenever the jackpot prize shoots up. “When we raise the jackpot prize above P200 million, people expectedly double their bets. Even those who don’t usually play buy tickets,” Casas says.
Great returns, minimal risks
A lottery agency or outlet attracts more than 70 people per week. Still, becoming part of the lotto industry is more complex than buying tickets at your favorite stall.
First, Casas clarifies that “lotto outlet application is not a ‘franchise.’ It’s an agency, meaning the lotto agents are given the right to operate a lotto outlet. Congress gave PCSO the franchise, and we give agents the right to sell.”
As such, there is no franchise fee. Instead, individuals with approved applications pay P10,000 for an installation fee that goes to the telecommunications carrier, and a processing fee of P1,700 that goes to PCSO. The agent then either posts a cash bond of P500,000 or pays a surety bond of P5,795.37, which is renewed annually.
“We pay the rental for the terminal, the telecom, and the service fee. We also provide the supply of bet slips and thermal rolls, free of charge. The agent doesn’t have to pay for them,” Casas says.
PCSO then requires the agent to establish sales for the first six months. In NCR, the quota is P300,000 to P600,000 every month, with the agent getting 5% per sale. “You can have sales reaching P50,000 a day, and you have a commission of 5%,” Casas says.
How to become an agent
1. The aspiring lotto agent must be Filipino and at least 21 years old. He must submit a letter of intent, with a location map and photos of the proposed site.
2. PCSO inspects the proposed site to evaluate potential sales and communication facilities in the proposed area. The site must have significant foot traffic, not prone to flooding, at least 100 meters away from schools, churches, and other lotto outlets, and at least 5 meters away from pawnshops.
3. PCSO informs the applicant to construct the lotto booth, following the PCSO’s requirements, such as colors, floor space, etc. The terminal will then be installed by the PCSO.
4. The applicant pays the processing and installation fee. The surety bond is paid to a PCSO-accredited insurance firm.
5. Request for training to operate the lotto terminal. The one-day training covers basic operations, validation, and selling and fraud prevention, among others.
6. Proceed to PCSO’s main office in Mandaluyong City for outlet provisions. Applicants outside the National Capital Region must pass requirements at their respective provincial district offices.
7. Sign the contract with the PCSO.
8. Wait for online activation.
Indeed, there’s a lot of work involved in becoming a lotto agent. The truth is, only five to seven applicants get approval from PCSO a week, says Casas. But once you make it in, you can revel in the fact that you have just joined an industry that often trumps even the laws of global economics.
Main photo (by Jun Pinzon) shows the men behind PCSO’s online lottery: OIC of the Gaming Technology Department Arnel Casas and assistant general manager Conrado Zabella.
Other photo from Flickr (Richard Joseph Siy)