E-Sabong’s social impact

READERS' VIEWS - Renester P. Suralta - The Freeman

Sabong is historically part of Filipino tradition that dates as early as 3,000 years ago. The game consists of placing two roosters in an arena and wagering on which will win the fight. The odds of winning are high because there are only two sides to bet on.

Today the latest state-of-the-art version of the gaming activity is called e-Sabong. It is online off-site wagering on live cockfighting matches and streamed live from the cockpit arena.

The game has become so popular at the height of the pandemic when people were at home with no live pastimes. But the activity is more than an amusement because money is involved.

E-Sabong is a multi-billion revenue source of the government regulated by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. under the office of the Solicitor General and the Department of Justice.

However, it is unfortunate that this revenue-generating gaming activity of the state has silent evil effects on people's lives. A lot of Filipinos fall prey to this online gambling business that can ultimately lead to bankruptcy, crime, personal health issues, and family conflict.

So what are the social impacts of such an activity on Filipinos? Will it help the middle class and poor alleviate economic difficulties or pull them down to a financial abyss beyond help?

Gambling addiction is a severe social problem. Study shows that it can affect self-esteem, relationships, physical and mental health, work performance, and social life. It can harm not only the person who gambles but also his family, friends, workplace, and community.

Gambling problems affect the family members like children, parents, siblings, and grandparents. It impairs family relationships, finances, and values.

Generally, it will reduce spending money and the savings of the family. Personally, the feeling of regret, failure, and shame about gambling habits will haunt the gambler. Eventually, it paves the way to spending less time with people they love.

Gambling is also harmful to psychological and physical health. People who live with this addiction may experience depression, migraine, distress, intestinal disorders, and other anxiety-related problems. Like other addictions, the consequences of gambling can lead to feeling down and hopeless.

The recent reports on suicide cases, increasing crime, disappearances, family breakdown attributed to e-Sabong-incurred debts are not isolated cases. A mother who pawned her eight-month-old baby for cash to pay a debt in e-Sabong was shocking news. How could a rational mother do such a thing to an innocent infant?

The Constitution, Article 2 Section 12, provides: "The State recognizes the sanctity of family and shall protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution." The decision to earn revenues by the government may be legally justifiable, but it's a question of morality. When family solidarity and preservation are at risk, the end does not justify the means.

The future of this country depends on the state, whether it will yield this source of income or disregard the welfare of the people. Gambling has a destructive effect on the core values of our nation. It threatens and destroys the basic unit of our society, the family.


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