Manila Bulletin

Life’s a gam­ble



APOST-Valen­tine’s Day thought: Love’s a gam­ble, just like the rest of life. A crack­down on il­le­gal gam­bling? Good luck, we’ve heard it be­fore. The fact that le­gal, gov­ern­ment-au­tho­rized gam­bling (gam­ing, to be po­lit­i­cally cor­rect) is big busi­ness means that law en­force­ment can only go so far to curb an “in­stinct” that lib­ertines, even lib­er­als, would clas­sify as nat­u­ral, uni­ver­sal. With Pag­cor’s suc­cess in host­ing the glitzi­est casi­nos in E-City, the urge to build a for­tune of so many ta­bles or un­der the table, in sun­shine or in shadow, legally or il­le­gally, can only be­come stronger and more ir­re­sistible.

Glance at So­laire, City of Dreams, and Okada Manila at E-City, plus Re­sorts World near the air­port, and you’re look­ing at P8.4 bil­lion in monthly rev­enues as of Jan. 3, 2017. Each time we en­ter any of these huge palaces of recre­ation we are tempted to ask if the Philip­pine econ­omy can sup­port four or more such casi­nos in one com­plex, and each time we are as­sured that the money rolls in as the dice roll, the for­eign play­ers love it here. As that mem­o­rable line from that for­get­table movie, Field of Dreams, tells us, “If you build it, they will come.”

Dreams are dreamt by peo­ple with lit­tle or no money, but big-shot cap­i­tal­ists aren’t gam­bling when they in­vite other peo­ple to play. Jack Lam, for ex­am­ple, earned a gross in­come of P39 bil­lion. (Ironic how casino own­ers stay away from their own game. Just like makeup artists who don’t wear makeup and fash­ion models who don’t fol­low fash­ion trends in real life.)

Ac­cord­ing to one source, there are slightly smaller Jack Lams among us who make P2 bil­lion a month, yet they’ve man­aged to stay un­der the BIR radar – and it’s not jueteng or cara y cruz or cock­fight­ing that they’re talk­ing about. Il­le­gal gam­bling? Wasn’t it hi­lar­i­ous how a TV news chan­nel kept run­ning images of the E-City casi­nos as the voice of its un­seen re­porter re­cited the day’s facts about il­le­gal gam­bling! Sur­pris­ingly, none of the casino man­age­ments com­plained.

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