Listening to the car radio early in the morning, the announcer spells out: Ang numero nigawas gabii mao ng 0-1-0“. Then the announcement on news, the weather, and other alerts; people take it as part of the morning chat.
Overheard above the humdrum at the public market, government offices, or in the mall, people are trading numbers like it’s everybody’s business. People bet on their license plates, birthdays, or any number that they have pulled off their computed handouts. Almost everybody bets on the numbers game, and there are people who depend on the game for livelihood.
No one minded, nor appeared to be scared, and would even remind each other about the numbers game known as swertres — which is supposed to be illegal.
Firstly, any form of gambling is immoral. It preys on the most vulnerable, and kills the spirit of initiative, search for individual achievement, and capacity for hard work It feeds on the culture of fatalism in the Filipino psyche — pagboot sa Dios (God’s will), or being resigned to one’s destiny.
Every bet of P1.00 wins P400., and this chance of just hitting the winning number is too tempting to resist for the many who are barely earning the daily minimum wage rate.
This is where the immorality lies — it is the poor who have better uses for their money: food, education for their children, etc., they are stuck in dire poverty because for every win, they have lost a lot more. But the lure of the lucky number is just too hard to resist.
Secondly, a gambler never quits while he is ahead; he always will try to recover his losses. There will come a time when the “winner takes it all” — because the inveterate gambler will try to find money to bet in whatever way possible — thus, the rise in crimes against property, stealing, bag grabbing, cellphone snatching, and akyat-bahay.
Thirdly, people seem to think that if everybody does it, then it must be alright — no harm done. And this is the most tragic and appalling effect of gambling. It will erode the sense of morality of the populace. If no one is caught or if no one is looking, life goes on.
It is hard to go against human nature- the expectancy of a “big win” is an obstacle that is very difficult to resist.
However, this is the role of schools, religions, and civil society to make a stand against the numbers game, it is time to hold discussion groups, and for the leaders and members of all religions to practice what they preach, or profess to believe.
Gambling is evil because it corrodes the moral fabric of a society. With the illegal numbers game is the existence of other illegal activities which operate with impunity as it will promote the “new” Golden Rule: He who has the gold makes the rules.
A basic concept to the existence of the illegal gambling business is that there will be no gambling, if there are no bettors, and that is the kicker.
Why is there illegal gambling? Because it is tolerated and openly supported by its betting public. Just say no to gambling!