GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 23 Aug) – The city government has closed down an initial 14 Small Town Lottery (STL) stations or outlets that were considered “operating illegally” in parts of the city.
Geraldine Zamora, chief of the permits and licensing division, said Thursday the move is in line with the crackdown ordered by Mayor Ronnel Rivera against STL outlets that were violating the local government’s regulations.
She said they padlocked the STL outlets during the initial round of enforcement activities on Wednesday assisted by city police personnel.
The official said they mainly shut down outlets that were operating within 200 meters of schools, churches and other religious institutions.
She said such prohibition was based on the provisions of the concurrence resolution for STL that was passed by the Sangguniang Panlungsod last June.
“We found several other outlets with the same violations but it appears that the attendants were tipped off about it earlier as they were already closed when we came,” she said.
Zamora said the padlocked STL outlets were all operated by Trento Gaming and Leisure Corp., the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office’s (PCSO) authorized agent corporation for the area.
She said they will conduct more surprise inspections and enforcement activities in the coming days for other STL outlets within the city’s 26 barangays.
The official cited that most of the remaining outlets operated by Trento are considered illegal as they violated the city government’s regulation that limits their number to just 45.
The council set the maximum number of outlets to not more than 110 but issued the authority to Mayor Rivera to determine the exact figure.
Based on assessments conducted by the city police, Trento has been operating “more than 200” STL outlets.
City Councilor Franklin Gacal Jr., chair of the committee on games and amusement, said he received reports that the active outlets in the city currently reaches “almost 300.”
A PCSO report showed that Trento alone was operating a total of 105 STL stations.
“The city council’s concurrence was not absolute. It has conditions that the operator (Trento) must comply,” Zamora said.
She added that they will later submit a report on the results of the enforcement activities to the mayor, who will eventually decide whether there’s a need to revoke the STL concurrence due to the violations.
The city’s charter, Republic Act 9649, requires the PCSO and other concerned entities to seek the city council’s concurrence before they can operate any type of gaming in the city. (MindaNews)