The game is arguably the most popular and most controversial illegal numbers game in the Philippines. It was notorious for fueling various political scandals – such as politicians receiving illegal payoffs from gambling profits – and eventually caused the impeachment of former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada. For a country drenched in poverty, the appeal of jueteng and other “easy money” scheme cannot be denied.

Jueteng (pronounced hwe-teng) originated from China and actually means flower (jue) and bet (teng). It was said to be introduced by the Spaniards that colonized the country in the 1800s. Chinese migrants controlled jueteng operations in the 1900s until the locals took over. It is patronized by many, especially by the poor, unemployed citizens. Thousands of Filipinos rely on jueteng as their primary source of income, thus it continues to flourish despite the government’s serious attempts to eradicate various illegal numbers games in the country.

Jueteng is a highly organized network that operates in the National Capital Region, Cordillera Autonomous Region and Regions 1 to 5. Every jueteng operation has their own support staff or employees that are designated with particular tasks.

Banker – (capitalist) finances the jueteng operation

Operator – manages the whole operations in the community

Cobrador– assigned to a specific area to collect bets

Cabo – supervises the cobradors in the sales network, reports to the operator

Revisadores – (checker) examines discrepancies from bets and cash

The jueteng superstructure may also include cashiers, accountants, lawyers, PR agents and hit men.

How to Play Jueteng

  • Before the draw (bolahan) starts, the kubradors or cabo (collector) visits potential bettors in their homes. They may also set-up stalls or kiosks on the street.
  • Betting can also be done via text message.
  • You can make a bet by picking two numbers from 1 to 37. Other operators use 38 numbers instead of 37.
  • One peso bet can win Php400 – Php1,000, depending on the location and financiers.
  • Bet can be as low as 25 cents. There is no limit on how much you can bet.
  • Random numbers are drawn using Bingo equipment, sometimes the winning numbers are just given by the financier.
  • If you win, you can collect the prize within 24 hours.

Jueteng Draw

Small wooden balls (bulilyos) marked with numbers 1-37 are placed inside the rattan bottle container that is also used in Bingo draws. The cabos are there to witness the draw and demonstrate a semblance of honesty. The one in-charge of the draw shakes the numbers inside the container. The first number of the winning combination is drawn and duly recorded. The number is returned inside the container for the next draw. Another number is drawn to complete the winning combination.

Game Variations

Tumbok and Sahod – a bet placed on the order of the numbers drawn

Pompiang – a bet placed on same numbers (ex: 5-5)

Casa – a bet placed on three numbers

Deretsa – a bet placed on one number and any number that may be equal to or lower than the bettor’s chosen number