It is not only illegal gambling per se but illegal online gambling is now a major social problem that is rapidly ruining the good sense of some people from all walks of life in our country. This warrants drastic measures from the government or else the situation will eventually go out of control thereby ruining many families. The emergence of advanced information and communication technology has made illegal online gambling advance in the sense that individuals could gamble with a click of a finger using their gadgets right in their homes without being caught in the conventional illegal gambling fray. Illegal or legal, gambling tends to affect the behavior of some people, especially those who are addicted to such games, to the extent of compromising their health, and the welfare of their families. In most, instances, those who are addicted to gambling tend end up impoverished. It is not so many that have hit the jackpot in gambling, but it is these ‘success’ stories that lure some individuals to wager their wealth, health and reputation in gambling.
In the first place, illegal gambling or even legal gambling should not be allowed to operate in various localities in the country because it is really lead to eventual loss of wealth within a short span of time. With this technologically advanced gaming using the various digital platforms, rarely can somebody beat the machine. Many people who have tried online gambling claim that they easily lost their money in just a few moments, and that it is also addictive that is why some of them were forced to sell their properties just to play and with the hope they can recover their losses. In the end, their indebtedness had ballooned beyond their limits.
Aside from being unregulated, people and local governments do not derive any benefits from illegal gambling because the operators do not actually pay taxes, duties and fees. More often than not, the illegal online gambling operations are found to be grossly violating labor laws and worst, these are found to be engaged in human trafficking of women. Worst, individuals who became addicted and victimized by the clandestine online gambling operations have lost their properties, tend to be violent especially inside their homes, all these resulting to broken families, among others, that have also affected the other members of society.
What is alarming at this point is that members of the vulnerable sectors are easily hooked by the illegal gambling operations because of its accessibility which could be reached right at the tip of our fingers with the hope of landing a bonanza. Its accessibility makes it difficult to monitor and prevent people from being involved in these online gambling operations and that the most common victims are the poor who even cannot go to gamble in legal venues such as casinos and bingo parlors that are regulated by the concerned government agencies and local governments. Ironically, operators of illegal gambling operations resort to various kinds of fraud to be able to recoup the bet money from the victims who have become indebted. Some victims themselves commit crimes to raise money and settle accountabilities. Among the commonly committed crimes include human trafficking, abduction, kidnaping for ransom, theft, robbery, physical injuries, swindling and grave coercion, violence against women and children.
We certainly believe that the government should pursue an aggressive effort to crackdown illegal online gambling operations because no one benefits from their operations, except the unknown operators and the corrupt officials whom they are in cohorts. We are also alarmed in the significant increase in human trafficking cases in the country which promoted the Inter-Agency Committee on Human Trafficking (IACAT) to issue a stringent travel policy for outbound Filipinos.
In the international scene, specifically in Southeast Asia, law enforcement agencies are closely coordinating, collaborating and working together to crackdown on cross-border gambling fraud. With the COVID-19 pandemic that struck the world over the past three years, some people got hooked on online gambling, both legal and illegal, as a way of coping both financially and to fight depression and hopelessness. However, this cannot be the solution to our problems as it can cause more problems.
Let us not allow illegal online gambling to proliferate in our communities because it would translate to a chaotic situation once the effects of gambling will prevail upon us. It needs a consolidated effort among government, the religious sector, law enforcement agencies and the cooperation of the people not to patronize illegal online gambling so that operators will have no clients, and these will surely cease operations if there are no client and patrons. We should inculcate upon ourselves that gambling, whether or legal or illegal, will not actually do us good.