The being risk-takers of Filipinos leads some to take chances in illegal gambling despite knowing that it is prohibited. This is because of the hope and the prospect of earning a good amount of money, easily, if luck comes and a person wins. As they say, at least there is hope even if the chance is more minute than the possibility of lightning striking a person.

We often hear the words “Kapit sa patalim” regardless of age or ethnicity as a result of the poverty
and difficult life status most are experiencing. The desire and the dream for improved lives.
In every corner of the world, we see Filipinos working to have some money to send to their families.
Some who are luckier end up marrying a foreigner whose different skin color is almost always viewed as “the saviour”, the “manna from heaven”

Filipinos resort to different strategies to make “both ends meet” financially but how much does one
person need to reach the goal of having a “good life”? This leads to the question, how far will any person go to reach that goal of an improved life, for himself, and his family? Gambling, for some, is also a saviour. It has evolved, from the “tupada” (backyard cockfighting), and “tong-its” in a VIP (very important person”) rooms in establishments to the current trend of online gambling and the more sophisticated ones…. Illegal online gambling.

The Covid-19 pandemic made people’s lives easier, with everything becoming accessible with the
click of the mouse or a tap of the mobile phone’s screen. While advantages are derived from online access, numerous disadvantages have also emerged, the likes of online investment scams, online love scams and online gambling which until now remains illegal in the Philippines. Illegal online gambling, illegal as it may be in the country, cannot be restricted with open access to the
“Worldwide Web”. It has become unavoidable and boundless, entering the privacy and comforts of the homes of any “Dick” and “Harry”.

Recently, law enforcement agencies in several Southeast Asian countries collaborated, coordinated
and arrested people in one member country to address cross-border gambling fraud. The problem has also become profoundly huge due to the effects that it has led to. When people were locked down, activities had to be resorted to, to avoid boredom and some people were hooked to illegal online gambling. At first, it was giving some respite from the boredom, then progressed to addiction that even the family’s funds were exhausted.

This led to some resorting to illegal activities to recoup the lost funds and later found themselves
hooked and tied with the webbed problems that resulted in the addiction to illegal online gambling.
Cases of human trafficking in the country have increased prompting the Inter-Agency Committee on Human Trafficking (IACAT) to issue a stringent travel policy for Filipinos going out, conducting searching questions before Filipinos can travel abroad.

While the implementation of this policy was put on hold due to an ongoing inquiry by the legislators as a result of questions and complaints from the public of being unable to catch their flights due to questioning, the wisdom remains to be for the protection of every Filipino who resort to “kapit sa patalim” to recoup funds and or earn. Former President Rodrigo Duterte made sure that online gambling is outlawed for Filipino residents.

He believes it is a problem running rampant across the islands and thus refuses to allow local casinos to offer their online services to Filipino residents, this is to avoid giving access to just anybody. Physical casinos’ operations and activities are regulated, they pay taxes and fees and there are prohibitions under Philippine laws that they have to adhere to. This is not present in illegal online gambling which from the word perse, is unauthorized, prohibited and definitely against the law.

According to the Republic Act No. 9287, the penalty for illegal gambling can be anywhere from 30
days to 20 years imprisonment, depending on the offence. 30-90 days for a person caught in the act of illegal gambling participating as a bettor; 6-8 years for personal or staff of an illegal number game; 10-12 years for a coordinator of an illegal numbers game; 12-14 years for a manager, maintainer or operator; 14-16 years for a financier or capitalist; and 16-20 years for a protector or coddler.

But is there really a way to avoid being hooked on illegal gambling, illegal online gambling or gambling in general? People should focus more on improving their livelihood, working hard and even harder to be able to survive the rat race that will only reach the finish line when an individual decides to stop breathing. Concentrating more on earning a living and saving whatever little amount can be saved or kept for emergencies or for future needs…. Or capital in a minute, micro, and even a small business that will give an additional income. On the part of the law enforcers, more intelligence and “online intelligence” effort should be exerted to crack down on the “witches that hand the red apples to the princess”.



Amianan Balita Ngayon