Pushing gambling



I always get inspired when I hear President Benigno Aquino 3rd or his able agency heads talk about his advocacy for good governance. This direction has given much hope to our country as it moves forward to being the nation it has always deserved to be.

But I must say that the government’s decision to push gambling in a major way through the Entertainment City of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor). It is not reassuring that De La Salle University is the closest major school to the planned 100-plus hectare gambling complex near Manila Bay. On the occasion of the opening of Solaire, Inquirer.net’s March 16 article declared: “President Benigno Aquino 3rd opened a giant $1.2 billion casino on Saturday to kick off the Philippines’ high-stakes bid to join the likes of Macau and Las Vegas in an elite group of gaming destinations.” Thanks to P-Noy, I feel like a boss and as a tax-paying “part owner” of Pagcor, I’d like to say a thing, or two about this ambitious goal to make us the gambling mecca hereabouts.

The media can hardly contain its excitement about this development, citing the impressive revenue and tourist numbers being projected by the government. Well, maybe media needs to look at other aspects, too, especially the social cost of mainstreaming gambling in such a high-profile way.

Maybe things have changed, but from what I know, “high rollers” eventually get their choice of women, whether local, or flown in from abroad, among other incentives. With such a massive rollout of gambling, can the expansion of institutionalized prostitution be too far behind? Gambling has destroyed many families locally, as lifetime savings and funds for children’s education have been frittered away in moments of foolish confidence about making “sure bets.” Are we really willing to expose more families to such risks? Singapore bans ATM machines in casinos and charges steep fees for those who want to play. The message is clear: “This isn’t for everyone.” Shouldn’t we do the same?

Should I even mention money laundering?

I’m not suggesting that we ban gambling. It’s entertaining for tourists and some people and if they can afford it, why not? But let’s not make it too visible and accessible to ordinary folks, especially to the young, since this will send a strong cultural signal that can influence generations to come.

With billions of dollars at stake—and we know how money talks in our country—who can have enough sense and a voice loud enough to promote temperance given the gambling extravaganza unfolding in Manila? Mothers, I think. One mother has already weighed in. Rappler.com reported that Felicidad Sy, wife of tycoon Henry Sy, was not keen on the family business being involved in gambling. This is the same lady who reputedly steered the SM cinemas away from R-rated sexy movies almost a decade ago. I suspect there are more mothers out there who can join their voices to petition our government for greater vigilance about gambling.

The former President Corazon “Cory” Aquino herself was a mother, too and quite a son she produced. But as I looked at the picture of P-Noy beside Solaire executives in the Inqurer.net article above, I honestly had difficulty picturing Cory warming up to this idea of Manila as the next Las Vegas. One of her legacy laws as President, which I require all my students to read, was the Family Code promulgated in 1987. It states that a key duty of parents with respect to their children is “to keep them in their company, to support, educate and instruct them by right precept and good example, and to provide for their upbringing in keeping with their means.” Let’s hope that our government and business leaders firmly hold the line in defense of the family and our community values as they raise the needed revenues for our country’s development.

Dr. Ben Teehankee is chairman of the Management and Organization Development of the De La Salle University. He may be e-mailed at benito.teehankee@dlsu.edu.ph.


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  1. How can we call on to the mothers when they are the ones into gambling? I’m not talking in general but only a reality. A nearby house in our area seems to have a “whole-day-session-libangan”, (surprisingly women dominates the crowd) their past time become habitual up to the point that their kids still playing in the street until midnight. And the worst thing our community do nothing about it.

    We are overwhelmed with the fact that we are now the “Rising Tiger” declared by the World Bank Country Director Motoo Konishi according to the article posted in Manila Standard Today.com dated May 29, 2013, that we put what matters most behind. Maybe the Sick man of Asia is partly healed but it should focus on other parts where there are infections might occur.

    Sad to say our generation changed drastically. Our way of thinking transforms liberally. But I’m still hopeful that Pinoys will come to realize that all worldly things are temporary thus, the values should remain as our legacy.

    • Our world maybe changing fast that so many things can now be legalized or can be widely accepted by our society; it may now be at the point that we have to think of other options in order to survive; but is it really at the expense of our values? Although, we may never see gambling as a sin, we might have to check as well if pursuing this is giving us higher purpose. It may offer solution to some of our financial problems because this surely will give us more revenue which is the main agenda, but are we not only shifting the problem to a wider scale? Studies have shown that those involved in gambling results to more problems: upright man to go astray when addicted to gambling and fame. Financial and health problems, not only affects people with gambling problems, but also their families’ physical and mental health risks, family breakdown, domestic violence, criminal activity and disruption or loss of employment, isolation and further vices. In conclusion, the high revenue that our government may benefit from taxes may not be enough to offset the problems that it can cause to our moral fiber. I hope our government can focus on creating more jobs by giving priority to our national security and economic stability which in turn will promote tourism and invite a good number of foreign investors in agriculture and service-oriented jobs where our country’s natural and human resources are at its best. Philippines was well-known for sending domestic helpers across the globe, now are we branding this time that Philippines will be Asia’s third largest gambling hub after Macau and Singapore. Will this truly make us proud?

  2. Why,what his mother has to boost about,nothing about job creation.she has something to boost,keeping his hacienda Luisita out of reach of their slave farmers and giving more monopoly to her elite business friends and relatives.
    How many thousands of jobs were given to theworking people since the solaire hotel and casino opened not discounting the fact that most of these workers are now witin their families reach instead of working thousands of miles away from their family. Thousands of jobs will be available again when the 3 more casinos will open.
    If you only eat 1 or 2 times a day,nothing to worry because these people cannot gamble in those casinos,instead they have a chance to get a job as utility workers in those casinos someday. Time will come that filipinos will not go to Macao or Singapore or Las vegas to work in those Casinos because we already have in the Philippines. Mabuhay!