As online gambling enthusiasts (and big fans of brick-and-mortar gambling when we can find the time for it), we have mixed feelings on various subjects having to do with gambling addiction, gambling withdrawals, self-exclusion, and the like.
In general, we think that these are important issues, but we’ve also seen how they’re often misused or misrepresented to push a moral narrative or social narrative that isn’t really backed up by reality.
And to be clear, we’re not talking about a local community’s right to support or reject things like casinos, sports betting kiosks, lottery stands, and similar things, here.
For example, we’ve covered the scandal taking place in Cagayan de Oro due to the unlawful operators of the Grand Imperial Casino in Barangay Taboc, Opol, and issues like that should absolutely defer to the traditional morality of the region.
Gambling isn’t for everyone, and retail gambling expansion isn’t for every local neighborhood, small town, or big city.
There are many, many variables when it comes to determining which venues should be allowed and supported and which ones shouldn’t.
It’s true that as primarily online bettors, we tend to stay out of such debates, as they’re more or less irrelevant to us. Because we do 99% of our regular gambling over the Internet, we’re able to keep our activities private and don’t risk exposing children or morally opposed adults to our betting hobby.
We think, in the most basic terms, that mobile online Philippine casinos are the answer to most of these problems simply because they remove the physical presence of the pastime from the everyday social context.
Of course, online gambling isn’t immune from problem gambling, and – like the best Philippine retail casinos in Manila and elsewhere – the most reputable online Philippine casinos also have self-exclusion policies whereby players suffering from gambling addiction can effectively lock themselves out.
Indeed, more than any other mandated solution to problem gambling, self-exclusion is what we’d actually advocate for even if there were no laws requiring it.
Such a service gives players a concrete, solid way to make an effective and binding decision to walk away from the temptation of real-money gaming should they need the option.
Even better, because it’s very difficult to get your self-exclusion rescinded – and because all the best online casinos for Filipino gamblers use KYC (or “Know Your Customer”) account verification standards – once you cut yourself off from an operator, you’re basically cut off from that operator for good.
All that said, gambling self-exclusion services – like anything else – can be used against casinos and the gambling industry at large.
Here’s a great example from Gambling News. Just check out this headline from last week:
“Philippines Casinos’ Player Exclusion Rate Went Up 15% In 2021”
Now, presumably, Gambling News is a pro-gambling website or industry tout. That is, we don’t think they’re out to torpedo the gambling industry or kneecap online betting or anything like that.
But they’re not exactly making it difficult for anti-gambling activists to have something to sink their teeth into.
Here’s an example of how someone with such ulterior motives might portray this news:
“Philippine Gambling Shock: Addiction Rises By 15% As Casinos Reopen From COVID Lockdowns”
Sure, if you actually click on the article and follow your Google News feed to the source – and then scroll down past the break – you’ll get some context that defies that narrative, but the vast majority of online readers only read the headlines in their news feeds.
If this isn’t fully understood by content creators by now, it certainly should be.
Indeed, here’s what someone who actually reads the Gambling News article will find just down the page (emphasis added):
“[The] Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR)…has released the latest report on the number of gamblers that were excluded by [Philippine] casinos in 2021. While last year’s figures indicate a 15% rise in the number of players who opted for self-exclusion compared to 2020, the 2019 numbers were twice as high as the 2021 figures.”
That certainly puts things into perspective, especially considering that 2020 saw so few exclusions mostly because local casinos were completely shuttered for months at a time as a result of pandemic-related lockdowns.
What’s more, legal online casino games – or legal iGaming – had not yet rolled out in 2020, while it has been available (at least to VIP clients) for most of 2021.
But if you look closer, you’ll see even more clearly how inappropriate it would be for anyone to claim that these self-exclusion numbers are indicative of a problem that needs further governmental intervention.
That 15% increase in self-exclusions represents an annual total of just 206 players.
That’s right: In a nation of nearly 110 million people, only about 200 of them – or approximately 0.00018% of the population – declared themselves (or had their families declare them) to be addicted to gambling and asked to be barred from further participation in all of 2021.
In total, PAGCOR reports that 1215 people – or just 0.0011% of the national population – are currently barred from real-money gambling with domestic operators as a result of their own self-exclusion.
Granted that most gambling addicts will not seek out self-exclusion or have it sought on their behalf by concerned loved ones – and granted that these numbers don’t include offshore gambling exclusion requests – that number is still incredibly small.
Again, our goal is not to diminish the seriousness of gaming addiction, and we always – always – advise all gamblers to never wager more than they can afford to lose.
However, we do feel the need to point out that casinos – both online and off – have self-exclusion policies firmly in place and that they’ll never attempt to change your mind once you send in a request to be added to their list.
Many gambling opponents view casinos as predatory dens of iniquity that can do no right, and that perception is unlikely to change among that particular crowd.
But if you’re just getting started with gambling – or if you’re coming across a legal online casino, sportsbook, or poker room for the first time and are worried about how safe these venues are – we’re here to help you understand the truth:
As long as you choose a truly reputable, established operator like those recommended in our online Philippine casino reviews, you’re in good hands.