As the lottery controversy continues to grab headlines in the Philippines, it’s worth examining the nation’s overall gambling trends. A Social Weather Survey, admittedly five years old, provides a glimpse into local attitudes and behaviors vis à vis gambling in its many forms. Sadly, while the forms of gambling dealt with in the survey included lottery tickets, card games, jai-alai, mahjong and cockfighting(!), it doesn’t appear to have been interested in online gambling habits. Nevertheless, if one is interested in general attitudes toward gambling, the numbers are still illuminating.
At least 53% of adult Filipinos (62% of men, 43% of women) engaged in some form of gambling in 2005. In geographic terms, 60% of adults in Metro Manila gambled, 61% in overall Luzon, 53% in the Visayas, but only 32% in Mindanao. Urban settings averaged 54% participation in gambling v. 49% in rural areas.
As we have observed in previous studies, the notion that gambling preys overwhelmingly on the lower socio-economic classes isn’t supported by statistics. In the Philippines, gambling participation amongst the bottom rungs of society was 45%, but this figure rose to 58% for those on the more fortunate end of the pay scale.
In gender terms, male gambling preferences were (from top to bottom): lottery, card games, cockfighting, jueteng and bingo. Women also put the lotto at #1, followed by jueteng, card games and bingo. On the contentious question of whether jueteng “damages public morality”, non-gamblers believed very firmly that jueteng was one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, while the response from jueteng players was closer to ‘meh’.