A legislative committee in the Philippines has approved a bill to regulate and tax e-sabong betting sites in the Philippines.
Sabong, better known as cockfighting, has been popular in the Philippines and other south Asian countries for centuries. While outlawed in many countries, betting on sabong is perfectly legal in the Philippines. And has been for many years.
While most of the betting action takes place at the cockpits, in the wake of the pandemic, e-sabong has risen in popularity. Part of e-sabong’s newfound interest can be attributed to the restrictions placed on public gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since restrictions were issued on public gatherings, many cockfighting rings have started operating in secrecy, trying to avoid the National Police’s detection. One illegal operation resulted in a raid that ended with one PNP officer losing his life after rounding up a fighting cock.
Now that more Filipinos are accustomed to watching cockfights and betting online, lawmakers are perusing a bill to tax and regulate online cockfighting. Joey Salceda (Chairman for the House Ways and Means Committee) told the press that this bill supports imposing new national government taxes on existing activities. He stressed that as the digital age moves forward and grows more sophisticated, there should be regulation and tax for online cockfighting.
Online sportsbooks that cater to the Philippines operate offshore and typically do not offer e-sabong odds; therefore, they would not be subject to this new tax and regulation. However, domestic sportsbooks and online sportsbooks operating from the Philippines could see additional tax and regulation if they continue to offer the service.
Once the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, most Filipinos will go back to betting at the cockpits, but some will also play the odds online. There are several disadvantages to betting online when it comes to cockfighting; currency (online options are limited), action ( it just feels different watching online), and withdrawals (unlike at the track, withdrawing online takes 24 hours or more).
There are also upsides to betting e-sabong online, including cryptocurrency deposit and withdrawals (online you can pay with Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other altcoins depending on the site), you can only bet funds in your account, and no one has to know you are a cockfighting bettor (not that it matters, but some people like to be obscure with their betting practices).