Gambling in the Philippines

Welcome to the captivating world of gambling in the Philippines. This Southeast Asian nation boasts a rich cultural history, and gambling has been an integral part of the Filipino lifestyle for centuries. Whether it’s the simple fun of a traditional game of tongits among friends, or the thrill of the high-stakes poker games in an upscale casino, the appeal of testing one’s luck and strategy is ingrained in the fabric of Filipino society. This article aims to take you on a journey through the intricacies of gambling in the Philippines, from its historical roots to the popular games today, and even the legal landscape that shapes this fascinating industry. So brace yourself for an enlightening ride into the realm where fortune favours the brave and luck is but a roll of the dice away.

Gambling in the Philippine

Brief History of Gambling in the Philippines

Gambling in the Philippines traces its roots back to the pre-colonial period, when early Filipinos engaged in various forms of betting games as a form of entertainment. Indigenous games like ‘sakla’, a form of tarot card lottery, and ‘jueteng’, an underground numbers game, have been part of the local culture for hundreds of years. Spaniards, during the colonial period, introduced games like ‘sabong’ or cockfighting, which soon became a common spectacle in fiestas and special occasions.

With the Americans’ arrival at the turn of the 20th century came the introduction of Western-style casino games like poker and blackjack. Post-independence era saw the establishment of state-controlled entities like the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), which paved the way for regulated casinos and other gambling establishments. Over time, traditional and casino gambling co-existed, each carving its own niche in the country’s vibrant gambling culture.

Legality and Regulation of Gambling

The gambling industry in the Philippines operates within a well-defined legal and regulatory framework. PAGCOR, established in 1976, has the dual role of operating state-owned casinos and acting as the licensing authority for private gambling operators. PAGCOR regulates land-based casinos, eGames cafes, and online gambling platforms offering services to offshore players.

Recent years have seen considerable changes in the regulation of online gambling. The Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) license was introduced in 2016 to oversee online gambling companies catering to overseas customers. POGOs need to meet strict licensing criteria, including a PHP 75 million ($1.5 million) performance bond and proof of PHP 300 million ($6 million) in paid-up capital.

Locally targeted online gambling has been a more contentious issue. As of now, the only legal online gambling for Filipino players is the online lottery and select betting games offered by Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO). Regulations regarding this are still evolving, with recent discussions in government circles about the possibility of legalizing more forms of online gambling for locals.

In terms of financial transactions, most casinos require a minimum deposit ranging from PHP 5,000 ($100) to PHP 20,000 ($400) depending on the game and the casino’s policy. The maximum withdrawal limit, on the other hand, can range anywhere from PHP 100,000 ($2,000) to PHP 500,000 ($10,000) per day.

Navigating the landscape of gambling legality in the Philippines can be complex, but a clear understanding of the law can ensure a fair and secure gaming experience for all. As we delve further into the world of Filipino gambling, it’s always crucial to keep in mind: whether online or offline, responsible gambling is the best strategy of all.

Popular Traditional Gambling Games in the Philippines

Filipinos enjoy a diverse range of traditional gambling games, each with a unique set of rules and cultural significance. Let’s delve into some of the most popular ones.


“Sakla”, also known as the Spanish tarot, has been a beloved game in Filipino culture for centuries. Originating from the Spanish colonization period, Sakla is typically played during wakes to lighten the mood and keep vigil over the departed. Players place bets on a variety of card combinations and outcomes, with each round’s result determined by a draw from a tarot deck. Despite the minimum bet being a mere PHP 20 ($0.40), winnings can sometimes reach several thousand pesos, providing a thrilling experience for participants.


“Tongits” is a local favorite played with a deck of 52 cards. The goal is to form sets or sequences before your opponent does. Tongits games usually require a small entry fee, often around PHP 50 ($1), with the winner taking the pot. This game is popular due to its balance of strategy and chance, often leading to heated, competitive rounds among friends and family.


“Jueteng” is an illegal numbers game with deep roots in Philippine society. Players choose two numbers from 1 to 37, and if their numbers are drawn, they could win up to 400 times their bet, with minimum bets often set at PHP 1 ($0.02). Despite its illegal status and crackdowns by authorities, jueteng remains widespread due to its potential for high returns and its deep cultural roots.

Sabong (Cockfighting)

“Sabong” or cockfighting, is a blood sport and a traditional pastime introduced by the Spanish. It’s so popular that there are dedicated arenas known as “cockpits” throughout the country. Bets are placed on either of the two gamecocks, with a typical minimum bet of PHP 500 ($10). Major derbies can see bets climb to several hundred thousand pesos. Despite criticism from animal rights groups, sabong remains a legally sanctioned sport with deep cultural significance.

Popular Casino Games in the Philippines

Philippine casinos cater to a variety of tastes, offering a blend of popular international games alongside Asian favorites.


“Baccarat” is a classic game in Philippine casinos due to its simplicity and fast-paced nature. This game involves two hands – the “player” and the “banker”, with players betting on which hand will get closest to nine. The minimum bets can start at PHP 300 ($6) and go up to several thousand pesos, depending on the casino. Its simplicity and quick outcomes make Baccarat an enduring favorite.


“Poker”, particularly Texas Hold’em, has surged in popularity in the Philippines, buoyed by high-profile tournaments. The game’s blend of skill, strategy, and luck is a major draw. Typically, minimum buy-ins at live poker tables start at around PHP 1,000 ($20) but can go much higher in premium settings.


“Blackjack”, known as ‘twenty-one’, is a staple in every Filipino casino. The aim is to beat the dealer by getting a count as close to 21 as possible without going over. Blackjack tables typically have a minimum bet of PHP 500 ($10) but can vary depending on the establishment.

Slot Machines

“Slot Machines” are a casino mainstay worldwide, and the Philippines is no exception. With a minimum bet of as low as PHP 1 ($0.02) per line and maximum bets stretching to PHP 5,000 ($100) per spin, slots cater to all types of players. Their bright lights, array of themes, and potential for huge jackpots make them a crowd favorite.


“Roulette” is a game of chance where players bet on where a ball will land on a spinning wheel. With options to bet on colors, numbers, or ranges, its variety and unpredictability keep players hooked. Minimum bets on roulette tables can start at around PHP 100 ($2) and can go up into the thousands for high-stakes games.

From traditional games that have stood the test of time to the glitz and glamour of the casino floor, gambling in the Philippines is a diverse and exciting world that offers something for everyone. However, it’s always essential to remember to gamble responsibly, knowing your limits, and understanding that the odds are just that – odds.

Online Gambling Scene

As the world becomes increasingly digital, the gambling scene in the Philippines has rapidly evolved. Online gambling, locally known as “e-games,” has gained significant traction among Filipinos. These platforms offer a wide range of games from popular casino games like poker, blackjack, and slots to sports betting.

Choosing a trustworthy platform is of utmost importance when venturing into the online gambling sphere. Look for platforms licensed by reputable regulatory bodies like PAGCOR or the Malta Gaming Authority. These platforms are required to meet stringent standards, which include secure data encryption, fair game practices, and transparent terms and conditions.

When it comes to financial transactions, online gambling platforms generally have a minimum deposit requirement, often starting from PHP 500 ($10). Maximum withdrawals can range from PHP 10,000 ($200) to PHP 100,000 ($2,000) per transaction, depending on the platform. To sweeten the deal, many online casinos offer lucrative welcome bonuses, some matching your deposit up to PHP 10,000 ($200), thereby giving you more bang for your buck.

However, safety should always be a top priority. Ensure the use of secure payment methods, and be aware of the signs of problematic gambling, like chasing losses or spending beyond your budget.

Impact of Gambling on Philippine Society

The impact of gambling on Philippine society is profound, with both socio-economic benefits and drawbacks. On the positive side, the gambling industry contributes significantly to the Philippine economy. Tax revenue generated from the industry supports infrastructure development, education, and healthcare initiatives. The industry also provides thousands of jobs, from casino dealers to software developers in the burgeoning online gambling sector.

Conversely, there are concerns about the social implications of widespread gambling, particularly gambling addiction. An increase in problem gambling cases has led to a rise in debt, family issues, and mental health problems. To address these issues, the Philippine government and various non-profit organizations have launched initiatives such as gambling addiction hotlines and support groups. Additionally, regulations are in place to ensure responsible advertising and to prevent minors and vulnerable groups from being targeted.


The world of gambling in the Philippines is as vibrant as it is diverse. From the allure of traditional games reflecting the rich Filipino cultural tapestry to the high-stakes action of casino floors and the dynamic online gambling landscape, there is something for every taste.

However, with the thrill of wagering comes the responsibility of moderation. Gambling, when done responsibly, can be an enjoyable pastime. It’s crucial to gamble within one’s means, recognizing it as a form of entertainment rather than a money-making endeavor. Remember, the house always has the edge.

In conclusion, as we embrace the excitement and challenges of gambling, let’s also champion the cause of responsible gambling. Whether you’re a seasoned player or a newcomer, remember to respect the rules, play within your limits, and most importantly, enjoy the game. After all, the real pleasure in gambling lies not just in winning, but also in the thrill of the play.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the most popular gambling games in the Philippines?

Filipinos enjoy a diverse range of gambling games, both traditional and modern. Popular traditional games include Sakla, Tongits, Jueteng, and Sabong (cockfighting). In the modern sphere, casino games such as Baccarat, Poker, Blackjack, Slot Machines, and Roulette are favored by many. In recent years, online gambling has gained significant popularity, offering a wide array of games including slots, poker, and sports betting.

How is the legal landscape for gambling in the Philippines?

Gambling in the Philippines is largely regulated by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), which oversees the operation and licensing of land-based casinos, sports betting services, bingo parlors, and online platforms. The country has a well-established legal framework for gambling, although some games such as Jueteng, despite their popularity, remain illegal.

What traditional gambling games are popular in the Philippines?

Traditional gambling games such as Sakla, Tongits, Jueteng, and Sabong hold a special place in Filipino culture. Sakla, played with Spanish tarot cards, is often associated with wakes and vigils. Tongits, a local favorite, is a card game where the goal is to form sets or sequences before your opponents do. Jueteng, a numbers game, is illegal but widespread due to its cultural roots and high potential returns. Sabong, or cockfighting, is a legally sanctioned sport with a deep cultural significance.

What casino games do Filipinos love to play?

Casino games such as Baccarat, Poker, Blackjack, Slot Machines, and Roulette are popular among Filipinos. Baccarat is enjoyed due to its simplicity and fast-paced nature. Poker, especially Texas Hold’em, has surged in popularity due to high-profile tournaments. Blackjack is a staple in every casino, while Slot Machines offer a diverse range of themes and potential for large payouts. Roulette, with its unpredictability, offers an exciting betting experience.

How has online gambling changed the gambling scene in the Philippines?

The rise of online gambling, locally known as “e-games”, has revolutionized the Philippine gambling scene. With the convenience of gambling from the comfort of one’s home, more Filipinos have embraced this trend. Online platforms offer a variety of games, from traditional casino games to sports betting, with financial transactions typically starting from a minimum deposit of PHP 500 ($10).

What impact does gambling have on Philippine society?

Gambling has a significant impact on Philippine society. On the one hand, it contributes substantially to the economy through tax revenue and job creation. On the other hand, concerns about gambling addiction and its societal implications, such as debt and mental health issues, are prevalent. To address these concerns, initiatives like gambling addiction hotlines and support groups have been launched by the government and non-profit organizations.

How has the history of gambling in the Philippines influenced current trends?

The history of gambling in the Philippines, dating back to pre-colonial times, has shaped current trends and preferences. Traditional games continue to be popular due to their cultural significance, while casino games, introduced during the American occupation, have become staples in gaming establishments. The recent rise of online gambling platforms is a testament to Filipinos’ adaptability to global trends while preserving the appeal of traditional games.