The shock caused by the attack by former government employee Jessie Carlos on the New World Resort Casino and Hotel in Pasay City still lingered a few weeks after the tragedy that resulted in the death of at least 34 persons.
Once again, the bloody incident brought to the fore the gambling-addiction problem that has worsened due to the proliferation of casinos in the country. And the government could be partly blamed for the situation as it continues to grant licenses for casinos.
As a result, there are now more than 40 casinos operating in the country. The latest casino opened in Metro Manila is the five-hectare Okada casino, which is located at the gaming complex of Pagcor in the reclaimed area in Paranaque City. The major stockholder is Japanese billionaire Kazou Okada.
With the opening this year of the Okada casino, there are now three big-time casinos operating in the reclaimed area. The two others are the City of Dreams which is partly owned by Henry Sy’s SM Holdings, and the $1-billion Solaire Casino and Hotel which is owned by billionaire Enrique Razon.
In Manila and Pasay, there are more than a dozen casinos. These include the Networld Hotel, Hyatt Hotel and Casino, Pavilion Hotel and Casino, Pan Pacific Hotel Manila and Tropicana Casino.
In the Ilocos, there are two casinos. In Central Luzon, there are 10 casinos. In the Calabarzon Region, there are six casinos, four of which are located in Cavite. In Western Visayas, there are two casinos, and in Central Visayas, there are three casinos. Mindanao has three casinos.
An end to casino operations was a campaign launched long time ago by Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz who said that eliminating gambling activities need not be abrupt.
Cruz said, “Gambling is just like drugs. You need more and more drugs the moment you begin taking drugs. The same is true with gambling. The moment you start, the more money you need for gaming. It’s addictive.”
He cited the case of former government employee Carlos, who carried out the attack at Resorts World Manila. Carlos reportedly had P4 million in debt due to his gambling addiction.
From our standpoint, we see that casino operations generate big incomes for the government which uses the money for its charity activities.
This benefit, however, is insignificant compared to the huge social cost of casino operations. We share Bishop Cruz’s observation that it is about time to close casinos in many areas.
The operation of the remaining casinos should be strictly regulated by allowing only moneyed people to enter these establishments.
The “instant millionaire” mentality is what causes poor people to gamble in the casino. But the truth of the matter is that only about 10 percent of gamblers hit the million jackpot. Most casino players are losers.