Pacific Online, DFNN in talks to hold text-based lotto games

By Miguel Camus, Business Mirror

Posted at Jan 27 2011 03:39 AM | Updated as of Jan 27 2011 11:39 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Listed gaming firm Pacific Online Systems Corp. is in informal talks with publicly traded information technology company DFNN Inc. over a possible tieup to hold text-based lotto games despite the latter’s ongoing arbitration case with the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).

In an interview with reporters on Wednesday, Pacific Online chairman and president Willy Ocier said his company has secured a “verbal” agreement with DFNN president Ramon Garcia over a possible partnership.

“I wish it will push through. We are losing by default,” Ocier said yesterday. “Pagcor [Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.] has already launched two text betting games. PCSO, by not doing anything, is losing out in the technology space.”

Last year, DFNN won a court order barring PCSO from awarding the right to provide wireless lotto gaming contracts to other groups.

The case stemmed from the reported cancellation of DFNN’s equipment lease agreement with the PCSO on April 9, 2003.

DFNN opines that it holds the contract to provide PCSO with personal communication device/wireless technology to enable the latter to receive lotto bets nationwide through the said technology.

Possible vendors include Philippine Gaming Management Corp., which leases lotto equipment in Luzon, and Pacific Online, which handles PCSO’s lotto operations in Visayas and Mindanao.

“For me, they should just go ahead with the business. We need to know also if text betting will be acceptable to the betting public,” Ocier said.

Meanwhile, Pacific Online is optimistic on prospects for its instant lotto games, marketed under its Scratchit brand.

“We’d like [instant lotto gaming] to grow. Actual sales of lottery [reached] P23 billion last year but we sold only a billion pesos worth of [Scratchit],” said Ocier. In other countries, instant lotto games comprise about one-half of lotto sales, he pointed out.

“Instant lottery game has never been considered gambling,” Ocier said. “A lot of department stores have promotions [like Scratchit] so it’s a very familiar activity.”

Pacific Online yesterday introduced three new Scratchit games—Kash Karera, Mega Diamond Dash and Lucky Rabbit—which will be launched in the first half of the year. The company currently has 12 Scratchit variants.