Monday, December 06, 2004

Why not legalize gambling?

I had recently concluded a business meeting in Thailand. On the plane back to Manila, Seated beside me was a gentleman from the University of the Philippines. He introduced himself as a professor of economics and was in fact one of the professors of Mrs. Macapagal-Arroyo.

We talked about what would make changes in government better.

Our conversation went to illegal gambling. And there is a lot of it happening in the Philippines. Its an open secret.

Now he was saying that we should legalize gambling-- jueting in particular. What is "jueteng"? Its a numbers game popular since the time of the Spanish in the Philippines. You can bet staring at PHP1.00.

Why does he want this form of gambling legalized? Because jueteng takes a lot out of government resources. e.g. Police officers instead of fighting crime, protect the gambling lords. Politicians earn kickbacks. Its a vicious cycle of protection. Think about the millions of pesos lost from non-remittance of tax by those who participate--- collectors, gamblers and protectors.

I mean, the national lottery system earns millions of pesos as well as the traditional sweepstakes draw. Why not this? And why not others?

the legalization of gambling has a point. But let us not delude ourselves that there will not be any form of illegal gambling, should gambling be legalize nor should we think that by legalizing gambling, pay offs for government officials or police will simply fade away. However, certainly it will make a huge difference and hurt them.

legalization of gambling will increase government revenues, surely and reduce a little the graft that goes with illegal gambling and the former will not be a safeguard against legal forms of gambling.

still its a great idea that will not see the light of day, just ask the church lobby and their moral high ground and just ask the politicians who will not profit from it, such vicious cycle.


Greg said...

I always believed that jeuteng should be legalized. The economist was right - - - it would free up so much resources used to quash it and enable the activity to cease being an underground" activity which therefore will enable the government to tax it. Of course, tax evasion would be another problem if that were the case but if government can get something from it (regardless of amount), it still comes out the winner.

As to the Church lobby, here are my thoughts about the powerful role of the Church in Philippine society.

I composed these thoughts after reading Inquirer's editorial last October 10, 2005 entitled "God's Phone Pals."

Sharing with your readers an e-mail I wrote recently to friends on my thoughts relating to that editorial:


This editorial talks about Bush’s and Gloria’s faith and how that faith has affected their actions. I wish this editorial went deeper and commented on how strong and powerful the Roman Catholic and other religious groups have become in the Philippines. I guess in another editorial. While it didn’t do that, perhaps this editorial can open our eyes on how religion and faith can cloud our ability to think more freely and how it stifles the ability of government to craft policies/laws, and how religious groups, as well as many politicians and civic leaders, use faith, God, and religion to promote their causes.

The editorial speaks of how believing that God takes sides can be “bad religion.” In my opinion, bad religion applies not only in waging war but in waging revolutions, uprisings, and in blocking State policies. Bear that in mind when you hear the Church and politicians vehemently opposing birth control (what’s the difference between the rubber and the natural method. Nothing. They both aim to prevent conception. Geez.), gambling (the Church raises money through numerous games of chance), and divorce (the Church has its own divorce and they call it Church annulment). When the Church, religious groups, and politicians use faith-based arguments, then it’s really hard to make headway in building a consensus.

For sure, some causes of the Church/other faith groups are good. In fact, I think overall, they've been a positive influence. But there must clearly be a separation of Church and State.

Personally, let the State make and enforce its own laws on birth control, gambling, and divorce - - -and that it should not let the religious groups dictate its policies on these matters. Sure - -the Church can disagree if it wants too and preach to their members not to divorce, not to use artificial means of birth control, or not to gamble. But Church policy should not necessarily be government policy - - and that the government should not allow itself to be bullied. After all, we’re not talking here of governmental policies that promote murder, genocide, etc. The State should determine if a certain policy is reasonable and effective. If it finds a proposal to be such, it should have the political will to pursue the policy.

While EDSA 1 was a glorious event, it also gave the Church as taste of power. And once tasted, it never wanted to give that up (and hence their very active role in Philippine politics. Even bishops have something to say about every issue - -and honestly, I think a lot of these bishops are . . . well - -for lack of a better word - - - stupid.).

Sure - -love God (for those who believe in God at least). But let’s not make the Philippines a theocracy.