MANILA - The head of the Philippines' gaming regulator said on Wednesday she supports having a separate agency regulating online cockfighting or e-sabong.
Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation Chairperson Andrea Domingo said this would free PAGCOR to focus on other gaming operations.
“Kung may isa lang na maghahandle niyan, mawawala na sa PAGCOR (If there's another agency to handle that) we can concentrate on our present offerings on what we should regulate at mas magiging effective yung aming responsible gaming policies,” said Domingo.
(Our gaming policies will be more responsible and effective)
Based on the recent data from PAGCOR, 8 to 10 percent of the regulator's income comes from e-sabong. The industry has also generated about P1 billion from January to April 25, 2022, PAGCOR said.
However, e-sabong has been plagued with controversies including alleged abduction cases, as well as gambling addiction.
Even President Rodrigo Duterte earlier threatened to retract e-sabong franchises if the industry was proven to be involved in illegal activities.
Some lawmakers also questioned why e-sabong operations were allowed to continue during the Holy Week. Domingo however said PAGCOR only controls online betting, not the cockfighting events themselves which are streamed online.
If there were e-sabong events last Holy Week, this means local governments permitted the traditional sabong, she said.
Domingo also said there are no legal offshore e-sabong betting operations that are regulated by PAGCOR.
“Wala kaming permits na binibigay na pwedeng tumaya ng offshore. Sa e-sabong dito, inside the Philippines lang. ‘Pag tumataya ang workers natin halimbawa sa Saudi at sa ibang bansa, iligal ‘yon,” said Domingo.
(There are no permits given offshore. E-sabong is only for the Philippines. If there are OFWs placing bets from overseas like from Saudi, that's illegal)
PAGCOR said there are 7 e-sabong franchises in the country with 1 suspended franchise and 3 others requesting for suspension of their franchise due to the inability to pay the guarantee fee to PAGCOR, Domingo said.
E-sabong operators need to pay PAGCOR at least P75 million per month as guarantee fee.