How Lotteries in The Philippines Started

How Lotteries in The Philippines Started: A Brief History

As a regular lottery bettor, have you thought about how the lotto game we know and love today came to be?

This is a brief history of how the Philippine lotto started. Let’s find out why Filipinos love lottery games and how the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office helps provide funds for countless health and medical programs all over the country.



History of Philippine lottery

Since the early 1830s, lotteries have existed in the Philippines. The lottery games during those times were under private enterprises which were called Empresa de Reales Loterias Easpanolas de Filipinas. The Spanish Government used lottery or loterias, to create revenue for the government’s projects.

It was said that even the country’s national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal played the lottery and won 6,200 pesos in 1892. Rizal bet on the lottery while he was in exile in Dapitan,  a city in the province of Zamboanga del Norte. Rizal donated his winnings to fund educational projects in the city.

The Loteria did not last long. It was forced to cease operations during the time of the Philippine Revolution. It returned operations briefly until it was suspended during the Spanish-American War.

The first sweepstakes lottery draw

After the last loteria draw, the first Sweepstakes was held in 1932. It was operated by the American insular government with the goal of creating funds for various sports projects for the youth. The projects were initiated through the efforts of the Philippine Amateur Athletic Federation or PAAF. The PAAF Sweepstakes was a huge success that more games were held for the benefit of the Philippine Anti-Tuberculosis Society. These draws were held under the inkling of the National Charity Sweepstakes.

Creation of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes

President Manuel L. Quezon confirmed Act No. 301 in March 1935. This law is about starting the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes to replace the National Charity Sweepstakes.  The new organization will be in charge of securing funds from the National Treasury which was then a loan amount totaling 250,000 Pesos.

This amount was the minimum amount needed in starting an office and included in this amount is the printing of the tickets to be used for the next draws.

Finally, on September 8, 1935, the new office of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes conducted its first ever draw. It only took the office two months to repay their loan and had more funds to be used in different health projects.




Some of the notable beneficiaries of the sweepstakes draw are the following:

  • Philippine Amateur Federation or PAAF now the Philippine Olympic Committee
  • Philippine Tuberculosis Society or PTS
  • National Federation of Women’s Clubs
  • Asociacion de Damas de Filipinas
  • Gota de Leche
  • Associate of Manila and the Provinces
  • Philippine Islands Council of the Boy Scouts of America
  • Asilo para invalidos delos Veteranos de la Revolucion
  • Child Welfare Center

Improvements and fun allocations

The corporate charter of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes was enacted into law through the Republic Act No. 1169 by then President Ramon Magsaysay on June 18, 1954. This act nullified Act No. 430 amended by the Commonwealth Acts 301 and 546. The office needed more funds and thus the Batas Pambansa Blg. 42.

Start of online lottery



It was during the term of incumbent PCSO Chairman Manuel Morato when the country’s first online lottery was launched. This was the time when the sweepstakes adopted the term lotto. The concept of the lotto was quite similar to the games played in the United States, Australia and in some countries in Europe. Berjaya Sports Toto Berhad leased their equipment to the office.

The PCSO lotto game 6/42 was adapted from games from other countries as well. In this lotto play, the player will select any 6 numbers from number 1 to 42. The player wins when his numbers are called in any sequence.

The frequency of lottery draws also increased and was held each week. Draws were held year after year with special draws such as the Freedom Draw which was held every February 25th as a celebration of EDSA People Power Revolution. There is also a draw held during the Christmas season.

PCSO helps Mt. Pinatubo eruption victims

When Mt. Pinatubo erupted in 1991, the country desperately needed help. Then President Fidel V. Ramos instructed PCSO to support the rehabilitation of the places affected by the eruption.

Proclamation No.  51 was issued to inform the public and private sectors to help the PCSO Special Pinatubo draw on October 22, 1992. The office was able to raise Php 350 million which was used to help victims through the President’s Calamity Fund.

The draw for Mt. Pinatubo’s victims was the start of PCSO’s undying devotion to helping Filipinos in need. Other draws include the series of draws for the Cordillera Autonomous Region Livelihood Project, draws to help the development of community health care stations, the construction of dialysis centers and the start of cancer and pain centers.

Start of small-lottery and other improvements

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo advised the creation of the small-town lottery or STL on March 20, 2006. The goal of the STL was to replace an illegal numbers game called jueteng.

The lotto was very successful but this success did not stop the PCSO from improving its traditional sweepstakes.  Nowadays, the entire operation of the lotto is computerized and this ensures better management of the draws and also lengthens the selling period of tickets.

There are now 5 major lotto draws the Ultra Lotto 6/58, the Grand Lotto 6/55, Super Lotto 6/49, Megalotto 5/45 and the Lotto 6/42. Aside from these draws, daily draws for the 6 Digits Game, 4 Digits Game, Suertres Lotto and the EZ2 Lotto. Draws are held on schedule but the lucky 2, 3, 4 and 6 numbers are drawn daily.




Lotto outlets also sell scratch cards which promises easy wins from as small as Php 50 to Php 1,000. Lottery outlets have also increased in number. There are now outlets in every corner, near transportation hubs, train stations, supermarkets, and malls.

Supporting the lotto is helping people in need. PCSO no longer needs to advertise the lotto because it’s clear that it’s already part of Filipino culture.

3 thoughts on “How Lotteries in The Philippines Started: A Brief History”

  1. Great post! Phillippine lottery history, I really love playing Swertres and other PCSO lotto games. Hope to win!

  2. Not just a simple swertres and lotto games ang pcso kundi nag help then sa kailangan ng tulong like charity. Good job!

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