January - February 2008
Mad over money

Gambling nation

ARE Filipinos natural-born gamblers? Marvin Castell and Joel Tanchuco, economics professors at the De La Salle University, posed this question in a paper they wrote in 2004 on what they described as a “habitual and pervasive social activity” among Pinoys.

“From the humblest barrios to the most affluent villages, Filipinos are into gambling,” they observed, citing the abundance of casinos, lotto and bingo outlets, municipal cockpit arenas, card games and “cara y cruz” on city streets, and bookies that go house to house for the illegal numbers game called jueteng.

A recent UCLA study does suggest that gambling has its roots in traditional Asian culture. The Chinese, in particular, are said to hold strong beliefs in luck, fate, and chance — concepts that many Filipinos, given China’s strong historical influence in the Philippines, also live by, and thus explain their gambling ways.

Back in 1999, findings of the Social Weather Stations survey also showed that Filipinos’ moral attitudes against gambling hardly influence their gambling behavior. There were as many people (63 percent) who said gambling was bad even for small bets and when done only for a short time as those (64 percent) who admitted engaging in a gambling activity in the past 12 months.

Many would however justify gambling as just a form of recreation, a “harmless” pastime, as if the amounts they’ve already lost to wagering haven’t already cost them a fortune. Such hard-earned money, Castell and Tanchuco said, should have gone to more productive pursuits like savings.

Videographer/Producer: Alecks P. Pabico
Video editor: Francis Ventura