The savior of many small Philippine communities is the Small Town Lottery (STL). In many respects, the story of the STL is similar to that of the little engine that could. Facing overwhelming opposition from religious groups and an entangled political system, the STL pressed on and on, never taking no for an answer, until eventually it took root in the Philippines and began to do it’s part to liberate small communities from poverty.
The STL has had several victories in improving life for Filipinos, while still running a profitable enterprise. One example that lottery officials have recently highlighted is the city of Manapla in the Visayas region of the Philippine archipelago.
Illegal gambling, once wide-spread in Manapla, has all but disappeared since the introduction of the STL. What’s more, the community received no benefits from the proceeds of the illegal gambling, but the lottery, on the other hand, has provided more than P470,000 to public works projects.
There are currently 13 communities in the Negros Occidental area of the Visayas that are reaping the benefits of the Small Town Lottery. Silay, Cadiz , Sagay, Himamaylan, San Carlos , La Carlota, Talisay and Escalante cities, and Manapla, EB Magalona, Hinigaran, Valadololid and Binalbagan all enjoy the bounty that is produced by the sale of STL lottery tickets in the Philippines.
As the STL attempts to also be implemented into Bacolod City, the lottery faces it’s stiffest opposition to date. Local religious leaders urge the City Government to find alternative methods of providing for the people.
Other lottery opponents point out the STL’s one true short coming – that as much as 40% of funds taken in by the lottery go into the pockets of the wealthy. Approximately 55% of funds go towards paying winning tickets in the STL, with an additional 5% go to education and public works projects. Opponents of the lottery state that this means 40% of the money make the rich grow richer, while pushing the poor deeper into poverty.
Manuel Escalante, Mayor of Manapla, feels that the lottery opponents are hypocritical for not being equally vigilant against illegal gambling in their community. Escalante is often praised for bringing the Small Town Lottery into Manapla, not only because it put revenue into the city budgets, but because illegal gambling virtually disappeared as a result.
Additional public hearings will be held to debate the topic of allowing the Small Town Lottery to sell tickets in Bacolod City.