What Is Gambling and How Does It Work in the Philippines?

The Philippines has a balanced perspective when it comes to gambling. To play fair games and to stay away from trouble, it is essential to understand what defines gambling and the legal situation of the existing alternatives. In a summarized manner, we brought everything you need to know about gambling in our country.

What Is Gambling?

Gambling is the act of putting something you own at risk for the chance of winning a prize or reward. That chance varies greatly according to the functioning and rules of a game, which may be a slot machine, scratchcards, or a poker card table with friends, among other possibilities. If the outcome is aligned with your guess or choice, you win. Otherwise, the thing you gambled is lost.

Is Gambling Legal in the Philippines?

Gambling is legal in the Philippines, and there is even an agency responsible for monitoring and controlling that activity, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR). The creation of gambling laws that made it possible happened in 1975, with Decree no. 1067-a. However, it does not simply allow all forms of gambling.

The legal gambling possibilities include land-based casinos, sports betting, online casinos in the Philippines provided by foreign operators, lottery games, and cockfighting. On the other hand, games such as jueteng, masiao, and mahjong are illegal if practiced with any intention of gambling.

It is necessary to be at least 21 years old to gamble in our country.

Why Is Gambling Popular in the Philippines?

It does not take much to realize how popular gambling really is in the Philippines. Two professors at De La Salle University (DLSU) published a paper in 2004 asking whether Filipinos are natural-born gamblers, and that study may help us understand its popularity.

The persistence of Filipinos in gambling seems to be connected with the fact that the prizes for the lucky ones appear to be more rewarding than alternatives that may bring us money in life. That is called the “opportunity cost”, which seems low from the perspective of gamblers in the Philippines.

Also, that behavior is maintained even after a considerable loss because the average Filipino does not have many alternatives to allocate the money that is left after paying debts. Since gambling is not only popular but also quite spread across the cities, that nearby alternative is tempting enough to keep people playing regularly.

Are Gambling and Online Gambling the Same?

To some extent, gambling maintains its main characteristics regardless of playing it physically or virtually. The most important features are those connected to the flexibility and comfort of playing online, which allows gambling from a mobile device or computer.

In terms of legality, online gambling is allowed from foreign sources. In other words, the companies that operate online casinos from the Philippines can only accept the registration of tourists, as those local platforms are not open to Filipinos. Fortunately, we can still enjoy dozens of great online casinos provided from elsewhere.

Also, online gambling often offers some extra perks. For example, testing real gambling games for free on casino websites, discounts and access to international lotteries, and betting on worldwide sports events. Just make sure to avoid any illegal options, such as online cockfighting.

What Are the Different Forms of Gambling?

It should be clear by now that there are several types of gambling available in the Philippines. We may divide them into three big groups: casino, sports betting, and lottery games. Our complete page on the types of gambling has a more detailed approach, but this division will be enough for you to understand what gambling is.


All the games in which you may gamble for money that is not based on drawings can fit into this category. They are divided into chance-based games such as slots, sic bo, and roulette and skill games like poker and, to some extent, blackjack.

While it is possible to play casino games locally at land-based casinos, only online casinos have more than 10,000 slots and hundreds of table games. Those are not mutually exclusive alternatives, and Filipinos are starting to notice the advantages of playing online.

Sports Betting on Sportsbooks

Sportsbooks are another gambling type that is available both physically at betting shops and online on betting sites. While there is a lot of chance involved, betting on sports is different from casino and lottery games because not all results are equally achievable when the match begins. Therefore, knowledge and understanding of sports are essential to make the best out of sports betting.

Lottery Games

Within the category of lottery games, we may include draw-based gambling and other forms of games that are simply associated with lotteries, like scratchcards. Again, scratch-off tickets and lottery games are available throughout the Philippines, but we end up limited to local alternatives.

With online alternatives such as theLotter Philippines, we gain access to dozens of lotteries from all around the world, plus Keno, an instant version of the lottery.

Chance-Based Vs. Skill-Based Gambling

Lightly approached above within the different conceptions related to what gambling is, the differences between chance and skill gambling are quite noticeable. When there is nothing we may do to improve our odds, such as when playing a slot machine or buying lottery tickets, that enters the chance-based gambling category.

On the other hand, if our knowledge and skill may influence the outcome, even if not entirely, we may consider that skill-based gambling. For example, poker has randomly distributed cards, but we need to know the possible combinations, it is possible to bluff, and the player choices can greatly impact the results.

The same concept applies to sports betting. After all, while the results are unpredictable, your choice of what bet to place based on the information you gathered can have an immense effect on your possible winnings.

How Do Odds Work in Gambling?

Odds merely represent your chance of winning in any type of game. Therefore, if a Powerball second prize has odds of 1 in 11,688,053, each ticket gives you one chance in 11.6 million combinations. On the other hand, the dice game craps tend to have odds of nearly 50-50 for the simplest bets.

However, that comparison took a US$ 1 million (~54.9 million PHP) prize and a 1:1 prize from the game craps. Therefore, it should be clear that odds in gambling are inversely proportional to our possible return. Let’s see how odds usually work for different gambling alternatives:

Gambling VariationBetOddsPayout
Mega MillionsOverall odds4.2%Varies
CrapsBig 6 or 845.5%1:1
75-Ball Video BingoRegular Gameplay0,01%50:1

Of course, there are cases like sports betting in which the odds are not precisely predictable and vary from one event to another. With time, gamblers learn to identify potential opportunities and risks that are too high to take.

Responsible Gambling and Problem Gambling

Gambling responsibly is following good practices that ensure a healthy relationship with that activity while preserving yourself from the consequences of problem gambling. Depending on a person’s inclinations, the limits of what is considered responsible gambling can vary greatly.

In order to assist gamblers in the Philippines, the aforementioned PAGCOR monitors the activity of licensed companies and businesses, which should follow the Code of Practice. When we play online from sources from other countries, they should also be licensed and monitored by authorities that ensure they enforce responsible gambling practices.

For example, the City of Dreams Manila facility has support channels to help people learn more about responsible gambling and offer help when necessary.

When there is a lack of responsibility, there is also a great risk of developing any form of gambling problem, including gambling addiction. Whenever gambling starts to take a big part in someone’s life and results in negative consequences, that defines problem gambling.

Fortunately, countries that do legalize and regulate gambling forms, such as the Philippines, count on good support for people who end up having any type of trouble and seek help.

Can Gambling Be Healthy?

Yes, gambling can be perfectly healthy when the person gambling sees that activity as a simple form of entertainment with risks. In order to gamble in a healthy manner, it is important to realize that:

  • Losses are part of gambling, and they will happen at some point.
  • There are no guarantees when it comes to gambling.
  • Trying to recover losses is the fastest way to lose the bankroll.
  • Only spare money may be used to gamble.
  • The smaller the risk, the lower the prize.

Anyone who fully accepts and absorbs those truths about what gambling is will be capable of dealing with it in a healthy manner.

Are There Benefits in Regulated Gambling?

When gambling is regulated, such as in the case of the Philippines, the best benefit is that the designated regulatory agency will help monitor and keep healthy gambling in the country. Also, illegal, unauthorized, and possibly rigged operations lose strength when there are regulated and audited options in which players can have real chances of winning.

Of course, there are some currents of thought that are against any form of gambling. Still, it is proven by the experience of many countries, as well as the Philippines, that prevention cannot prevent gambling from happening. As a regulated activity, there is a greater degree of safety and support for those who choose to gamble.


Gambling is a popular choice of entertainment for the adult public and comes in varied forms and odds. The two characteristics of major importance are the inversely proportional relationship between risk and gain, as well as the fact that you need to bet on something you own. There are so many forms of gambling that almost everyone can find one that fits their liking.

In order to preserve a healthy relationship with gambling, it is important to follow the regulatory rules and stick to the legal gambling activities in the Philippines. Luckily for us, there are many of them.


You may play all forms of legal gambling in the Philippines, which are quite many.

Yes, there are some games that are either completely illegal or illegal to some extent. Jueteng is completely illegal, while cockfighting is only allowed locally, not online.

Anyone who is at least 21 years old is allowed to gamble the legal and regulated activities in the Philippines.