Exploring the History of Gambling in the Philippines

In a country known for its beautiful beaches, vibrant culture, and warm hospitality, gambling has woven itself into the very fabric of Philippine society. From traditional games rooted in indigenous culture to modern casinos and online betting platforms, the history of gambling in the Philippines is a captivating journey that reflects the nation’s evolving social and economic landscape.

The Origins of Philippine Gambling

A Glimpse into Ancient Traditions

Philippine gambling has deep historical roots, with some of its traditional games dating back centuries. One such game is “sungka,” a mancala-style game played with shells or stones. It offers insights into the indigenous cultures that inhabited the archipelago long before Spanish colonization.

Influence of Spanish Colonial Rule

The arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century brought new forms of gambling to the Philippines, including “jueteng” and “sakla.” These games combined elements of European and indigenous gambling, showcasing the fusion of cultures during this period.

The Evolution of Gambling

American Colonial Era

Under American rule in the early 20th century, horse racing became immensely popular. The establishment of the Manila Jockey Club in 1937 marked a significant milestone in the development of the country’s gambling industry.

Martial Law and the PAGCOR Era

The declaration of martial law in 1972 saw the creation of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR). PAGCOR served as a government-owned regulator and operator of casinos, contributing to the modernization of the gambling sector.

Modern Gambling Landscape

Rise of Integrated Resorts

The 21st century ushered in a new era of gambling with the emergence of integrated resorts. Entertainment hubs like Resorts World Manila and City of Dreams Manila not only offer world-class gaming facilities but also host international concerts and events, attracting tourists from around the globe.

Online Gambling Boom

With the advent of the internet, online gambling platforms proliferated. Filipinos now have easy access to online casino, sports betting, and poker rooms, contributing significantly to the country’s economy.

The Socioeconomic Impact

Economic Contribution

The gambling industry in the Philippines plays a vital role in the nation’s economy. It generates substantial revenue, providing funds for infrastructure development and social programs.

Social and Cultural Aspects

Gambling has become deeply ingrained in Filipino culture, with various rituals and superstitions associated with it. Exploring these cultural nuances provides a richer understanding of the Filipino approach to gambling.


In conclusion, the history of gambling in the Philippines is a multifaceted narrative that spans centuries. From ancient indigenous games to the modern integrated resorts and online platforms, gambling has evolved alongside the country itself. Its impact on the economy, culture, and society is undeniable.