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EDITORIAL: Hypocrisy About Gambling

Conceptually, holding religious rites that allow games of chance should be discouraged. They are incongruous with each other. One is intended to raise the moral standards while the other opens the prospect of moral degeneration. It is a reminder of a biblical passage when gamblers were driven away from the house of worship.

The otherwise religious festival has evolved into a combination of a religious and civic celebration that features trade fairs, parades, pageants, carnivals and circuses that include “peryahan”.

Caution should be observed in order that games lay emphasis on skills and not exclusively on chance which usually lead to laziness, waste of time and often contribute to the rise of criminality.

On this regard granting permit to operators of “pula dayon” or “pula puti” must be red flagged.

The sophomoric if not crude idea of banning bets in cash and replacing the same with chips does not change the nature of determining if the games rely on chance and not on skills.

Even transferring their venue to a place less accessible to the vulnerable does not remove the fact that money is involved even if converted into chips which later on can be redeemed. As to venue it bears reminding that games of chance draw crowds due to the misplaced hope of gaining money the easy and quick way. It is in a sense addictive.

Of particular concern is the conduct of “pula dayon” or “pula puti.” It is obvious that these games do not require skill. Rather, bettors rely exclusively on chance. For this reason, they ought not be part of the games operated within the”perya.”

In fairness, games are usually allowed by local governments on special occasions. Even countries within the western part of the world allow games as an important source of revenue, but are invariably made to undergo the test of whether they are solely dependent on chance or using skills. Among such games are billiards, races and “tongits” or even “bingo”, as a parlor game.(In Southeast Asia, Brunei, Cambodia and Singapore prohibit gambling for being “degrading” )

It may be too late to revoke the permits granted to the operators if they have been allowed for a fee, the proceeds of which shall form part of the government funds.

But allowing them to operate further after the festival is suspect. On this point, where will the revenues go—to the government coffers or to private pockets? An honest to goodness reply will determine whether policies about gambling are wrapped with hypocrisy or hidden agenda.

Games of chance are generally permitted on special cases, given that they help increase public revenues. It is a matter of choice, provided they do not primarily fatten private pockets. That indicates hypocrisy about gambling, particularly when gambling laws and regulations are enforced selectively, one for ragtag operations and another for organized events.

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