March 7, 2022 3 min read

PAGCOR Looking Into the Repercussions of Suspending e-Sabong Activities

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) has used caution to respond to the Senate’s requests to shut down all online cockfighting (e-sabong) operations in the country. The request comes in the context of a series of missing person cases that are presumably tied to e-sabong activities.

Last Friday, PAGCOR chair and chief executive officer Andrea Domingo addressed the Senate in regards to the request made by 23 members to immediately suspend a series of e-sabong licenses. Domingo said PAGCOR would need to be explicitly granted permission from President Rodrigo Duterte to abruptly halt the activities of seven licensed e-sabong operators, including Belvedere Vista Corporation, Jade Entertainment, and Gaming Technologies, Lucky 8 Star Quest Inc., Visayas Cockers Club, Inc., and Newin Cockers Alliance Gaming Corporation. 

Domingo added that she would visit the Presidential Palace to have an eye-to-eye talk on the matter with President Duterte. Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon responded that such a talk would be unnecessary since the regulator issued these licenses without previously asking for Presidential approval. Accordingly, Drilon added, the regulator has the inherent power of also suspending the licenses without requiring clearance.

The Senate’s request comes in the context of an active investigation into 31 missing sabungero (cockfight aficionados) cases in what is believed to be connected to e-sabong betting. The unresolved missing person cases include ten men who went missing briefly after attending cockfighting activities in Manila and Laguna and six men that attended a Manila cockfighting tournament in mid-January, along with ten men who attended a cockfighting match in Bulacan in 2021.

Senator Ronald dela Rosa asked the e-sabong regulator to do its job while emphasizing it falls under its direct responsibility to suspend all problematic e-sabong activities. In response, Domingo said PAGCOR would need to look into all possible repercussions and “stand at the peril” of being forced to pay PHP 640 million ($12 million) while suspending these activities “without clear and legal basis”.

Last November, a Filipino ex-House Speaker warned that e-sabong and gambling activities were the country’s “new pandemic”.

Authorities Concerned about Even More e-Sabong Missing Person Cases

The Philippine National Police fears there may be even more cases of abductions tied to e-sabong activities than the 31 reported cases. According to the authorities, the abductions were “well-planned” and most likely done by trained groups. As of February 21, the authorities had filed seven administrative cases against police officers from Regional Office 4-A, Eastern Visayas, Bicol, Highway Patrol Group, and National Capital Region. The accusations ranged from grave misconduct to violations related to acts unbecoming of police officers.

Online cockfighting comprises online betting activities on live cockfighting events and matches that are broadcast live from licensed cockpit arenas. The E-Sabong Licensing Department is responsible for developing the legal framework while processing all licensing applications and granting all operational licenses to interested e-sabong businesses. 

All e-sabong arenas need to install a minimum of four closed-circuit television cameras (CCTV) working 24/7 on the premises, with extra surveillance units used to eliminate blind spots. All CCTV recordings must be stored for at least 30 days and cover player and employee activities that may represent instances of stealing or cheating employee misconduct, the treatment of injured, ill, or disorderly persons, and any evictions or arrests made on the premises.

After finishing her master's in publishing and writing, Melanie began her career as an online editor for a large gaming blog and has now transitioned over towards the iGaming industry. She helps to ensure that our news pieces are written to the highest standard possible under the guidance of senior management.

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