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Social Climate
A survey on gambling

By Mahar Mangahas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 23:38:00 10/01/2010

Filed Under: Opinion surveys, Casinos & Gambling

THE RECENT revelations about the pervasiveness of jueteng, and the recurrence of proposals to legalize it, make it fitting to look up some survey numbers on gambling, from the Social Weather Survey of May 14-23, 2005.

The number of gamblers in 2005 was revealed by answers to the question: ?Please tell me whether or not you have done any of the following things in the past 12 months: bought a lotto ticket, gambled at a casino, played bingo for money, bought a jai-alai ticket, bet in a cockfight, bet on jueteng, played mahjong for money, bet in card games, bet in masiao, bought a sweepstakes ticket, or played any other number games?? Multiple answers were accepted. ?Betting on horses,? which is legal, was inadvertently left off the list, but was volunteered by a few.

Betting is very widespread. Those who named at least one gambling activity included a 62 percent majority of men and a large 43 percent minority of women, for an overall 53 percent of all adult Filipinos. The other 47 percent said they did not play any of the listed betting games in the past 12 months. (I use the past tense here as a reminder that the numbers refer to five years ago.)

The estimated number of gamblers came to 15.6 million men and 10.9 million women, or 26.5 million in all, out of a projected population of 50.4 million adults in 2005. There probably are youth below 18 years old who gamble too; I just don?t know of any surveys on them.

According to the 2005 survey, gambling was done by majorities in Metro Manila (60 percent), the Balance of Luzon (61 percent), and the Visayas (53 percent), but by only a minority in Mindanao (32 percent).

Gamblers were slightly more common in urban areas (54 percent) than in rural areas (49 percent). Gambling increased with socio-economic class: 45 percent in the very poor Es, 54 percent in the masa Ds, and 58 percent in the middle-to-upper ABCs.

Relative popularity of betting games. The percentages of survey respondents who cited the various betting games listed above were: lotto 32; jueteng 14; card games 13; cockfights 9.1; bingo 7.9; sweepstakes 5.7; jai-alai 4.3, mahjong 3.4; masiao 2.2; last two (volunteered game) 1.4; casino games 0.9; basketball ending (volunteered game) 0.5; and off-track betting on horses (volunteered game) 0.2.

Lotto was the most popular betting game for both men (38 percent) and women (26 percent). The bettors numbered over 9 million men, and close to 7 million women, or a total of 16 million lotto players.

The reason that jueteng was the second most popular betting game, among all adults, was because it was No. 2 among women (13 percent). Next most popular among women were card games (10 percent), followed by bingo for money (9 percent) and the sweepstakes (5 percent).

Among men, jueteng was actually only the fourth most popular betting game (15 percent), the second most popular being any card games (17 percent) and the third most popular being cockfighting (16 percent). After jueteng, the next most popular among men was bingo for money (7 percent).

The estimated number of jueteng players was 6.9 million, consisting of 3.7 million men and 3.2 million women. An estimated 19.6 million were bettors not in jueteng but in one or more of the other games listed.

Jueteng and public morality. The May 2005 survey had two questions specifically on attitudes towards jueteng. One was: ?In your opinion, what is the effect of jueteng on public morality [in Filipino, moralidad ng bayan]?does it damage it extensively, damage it a bit, or not really damage it??

The national result was that a majority of 57 percent said ?extensively,? while 22 percent said ?a bit,? and 20 percent said ?not really.? The spread of ?extensively? over ?not really? of 57 - 20 = +37 was the net balance of opinion that jueteng hurts public morality.

The strength of this opinion was, as could be expected, related to gambling behavior. Among non-gamblers, the percentages were ?extensively? 66 and ?not really? 15, or a very large net +51 balance against jueteng. Among non-jueteng gamblers, the percentages were ?extensively? 51 and ?not really? 23, or a smaller net +28 against jueteng. Among jueteng gamblers, however, the percentages were ?extensively? 31 and ?not really? 38, or a net -7 denial that their game harms public morality.

On the legalization of jueteng. The final question about jueteng in the 2005 survey was: ?Do you agree or disagree with those who say that jueteng should be legalized in the Philippines?? (The answer options allowed for two degrees of agreement or disagreement, but the two degrees are combined here.)

The national result was that 33 percent agreed, 53 percent disagreed, and the rest were neutral, or a net attitude of 33 - 53 = -20 concerning legalization of jueteng.

The national opposition to legalization of jueteng was carried by the non-gamblers? 24 percent agreement and 63 percent disagreement, or net -39. Non-jueteng gamblers had 42 percent agreement and 45 percent disagreement, or an essentially split opinion of net -3. Jueteng gamblers, on the other hand, had 57 percent agreement and 31 percent disagreement, or net +26 support for jueteng?s legalization.

But this was public opinion on jueteng five years ago. Could it have changed drastically since then? To know the situation at present requires a new opinion poll. The new survey numbers could then be used either to support new legislation or to oppose it.

* * *

(The May 2005 survey had a national sample of 1,200 adults, for a 3 percent error margin. Social Climate thanks Clarence Maganto of SWS for the special tabulations used here.)

* * *

Contact SWS: www.sws.org.ph or mahar.mangahas@sws.org.ph.

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