E-sabong Franchise Disagreements Cause Concerns From Lawmakers

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Legal online cockfighting betting

At a recent House law and means, committee hearing lawmakers discussed off-site betting operations for Sabong and cockfighting. 

The meeting was supposed to discuss tax provisions for online e-Sabong betting but erupted into a discussion about the private companies earning more than the government. 

A substitute bill for HB No. 10204, which provides the Visayas Cockers Club Inc. authority to operate off-site betting operations anywhere in the Philippines, was also discussed by committee members. 

Deputy Speaker and Manila 6th District Rep. Benny Abante was the first to speak up in opposition against the House Bill and e-Sabong in general. Abante’s primary concern was for families, and off-track Sabong betting could have on individuals with gambling addictions. 

Rep. Abante asked the panel if Visayas Cockers Club is given the franchise would they be able to open cockfighting anywhere in the Philippines? Negros Oriental 3rd District Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. stated that the company could only set up online platforms in areas that approved e-Sabong.

Rep. Teves stated that betting on cockfighting in person and online would continue to operate even if the Philippine government did not regulate the online market, so it is best if the government earns from it. Teves also said that e-Sabong is like Jueteng, an illegal numbers game later adopted by the government and rebranded as the small-town lottery.

Committee chair and Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda said that the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) could earn P3-P5 billion in taxes a year from e-Sabong. 

Senate Discusses e-Sabong

Senator Pia Cayetano

– Senator Pia Cayetano (Above)

There was also a recent discussion about e-Sabong on the Senate floor during the deliberation of the Philippines Sports Commission (PSC) budget. Some Senators suggested that the PSC could increase their budget by seeking augmentation from Congress or through revenues generated from e-Sabong. 

Senator Pia Cayetano also expressed concerns about online Sabong gambling stating that e-Sabong had devastating effects on Filipinos during the 2019 Covid lockdown. 

Over the past couple of years, as the government has placed restrictions in many metro areas, online sports gambling in the Philippines has become the norm for many Filipinos. Cockfighting especially, as the tradition often occurs at cockpits with hundreds of spectators. 

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