MANILA - The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas on Friday ordered financial institutions to remove all electronic sabong (e-sabong) operators from the list of merchants in their online apps.
In a statement, the the central bank said it has issued Memorandum 2022-026 to all BSP Supervised Financial Institutions (BSFIs) in line with President Rodrigo Duterter's order to suspend all e-sabong operations in the country starting May 3.
“The BSP reiterates that BSFIs should only deal with gambling and/or online gaming businesses that are allowed to operate by the appropriate government agency," the memo signed by BSP Gov. Benjamin Diokno stated.
"The memorandum also emphasized that BSFIs shall strictly observe customer due diligence, continuously monitor accounts and transactions, report suspicious transactions, and ensure that appropriate control measures are in place to restrict access of minors, government employees, and other prohibited players to online gambling facilities," it added.
Duterte stopped e-sabong operations due to its negative social impact, including gambling addiction and the disappearance of several cockfighting enthusiasts.
Financial firms were also urged to inform clients with remaining funds in their e-sabong accounts to transfer money back to their e-wallets within 30 days from the issuance of the memorandum, the central bank said.
The BSP said BSFIs were directed to disable the link between e-sabong accounts and e-money wallets, as well as e-sabong merchant operator accounts.
E-sabong, the online betting linked to traditional cockfighting, gained popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic when face-to-face events were prohibited.
House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Joey Salceda earlier said imposing tax on e-sabong operations could help generate funds to pay for the country's ballooning debt.