Lotteries are not new in the Philippines. While lotto games as they are today might have shifted online, the tradition of picking numbers with the anticipation of pulling a big win has been a mainstay in the Filipino culture. Early records show that lotteries have been around the Philippines since 1883.
It is believed that lotto games are one of the many things Filipinos adopted from Spain. During the early days, Lotteries were administered by private enterprises under the Spanish government's watch. The main reason behind the introduction of lotteries in the country is the creation of additional streams of revenues for the government.
During its early years, a lucky player, Dr. Jose Rizal, won a jackpot of 6,200 Pesos from the Manila Lottery in 1892. While still in exile, Rizal surprised many when he donated his win towards an educational drive. This" big win" ignited interest from various quarters. However, the Lottery was short-lived owing to the fact that the Philippine Revolution (1896 – 1898) broke out a few years later.
Post Philippine Revolution – the 1900s
The first lotto draw after the two-year Revolution was held in 1932. Just like in the past, the government of the day used lotteries as a 'funds drive' aimed at raising revenue to fund charitable activities. Lotteries became successful, obliging the government to shift its focus to holding more draws directed towards charitable causes such as the then Philippine Anti-Tuberculosis Society (PTSI).
The government instituted the Philippine Charity Sweepstake Office (PCSO) to oversee lottery gaming in 1935. The new body quickly sought a 250,000 Pesos loan from the Treasury to expedite the establishment of the lotto gaming industry. This turned out to be a huge success, as the entire amount was repaid in a couple of weeks. The humanitarian mission associated with lotteries was instrumental in earning public backing, which remains to date.
Fast forward, PCSO appointed a new chairperson in 1995, Manuel Morato. Under his leadership, the first online lottery was launched, seeing the term lotto adopted. Even though online lotteries faced severe criticisms, the Supreme Court was quick to support this new mode of gaming, marking a new era in the Filipino lottery industry.