23 Jun. 2015
A casino dealer collects chips at a roulette table inside Solaire Casino in Pasay city, Metro Manila, Philippines, March 27, 2015. The Philippines has emerged as one of Asia's hottest gambling hubs after it launched its 120-hectare (1.2 square km) gaming and leisure enclave called Entertainment City in the capital, modelled on the Las Vegas strip. When paying your final respects for a relative or friend, the last thing you might expect to see at the wake is people placing bets on a card game or bingo. Not in the Philippines. Filipinos, like many Asians, love their gambling. But making wagers on games such as "sakla", the local version of Spanish tarot cards, is particularly common at wakes because the family of the deceased gets a share of the winnings to help cover funeral expenses. Authorities have sought to regulate betting but illegal games persist, with men and women, rich and poor, betting on anything from cockfighting to the Basque hard-rubber ball game of jai-alai, basketball to spider races. Many told Reuters photographer Erik De Castro that gambling is only an entertaining diversion in a country where two-fifths of the population live on $2 a day. But he found that some gamble every day. Casino security personnel told of customers begging to be banned from the premises, while a financier who lends gamblers money at high interest described the dozens of vehicles and wads of land titles given as collateral by those hoping lady luck would bring them riches. REUTERS/Erik De Castro
PICTURE 16 OF 29 FOR WIDER IMAGE STORY "HIGH STAKES IN MANILA". SEARCH "BINGO ERIK" FOR ALL IMAGES.