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Lacson: E-sabong, other online games social ills

Paolo Romero - The Philippine Star
Lacson: E-sabong, other online games social ills
Sen. Panfilo Lacson cited the case of popular electronic cockfight betting or “e-sabong” that was aided by the rise of digital wallets in the country and has now become a social problem after many compulsive gamblers lost large sums and were left in financial ruin.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — The proliferation of e-sabong among other online gambling attractions is tearing families apart and worsening social ills in the country, presidential aspirant and Sen. Panfilo Lacson warned yesterday.

Lacson, standard bearer of Partido Reporma, said some Filipinos’ growing addiction to online gambling warrants serious attention from the national government amid reported cases of suicide and destruction of families because of it.

He cited the case of popular electronic cockfight betting or “e-sabong” that was aided by the rise of digital wallets in the country and has now become a social problem after many compulsive gamblers lost large sums and were left in financial ruin.

“We learned about this father in Pampanga whose debt reached P600,000 because of e-sabong. He committed suicide, left his children behind. So, there are indeed social problems attached to the issue,” Lacson said in Filipino during a press conference prior to his “Online Kumustahan” gathering in Bulacan on Saturday.

He said he understood why it was easier for people to get addicted to online gambling these days as transactions are purely made online with no cash on hand. This makes the industry much harder to regulate for the government because our existing laws remain limited.

He cited the need to supervise the industry but authorities have to reconcile it with the Constitution first because e-sabong is not considered a public utility. He said it is the reason applications to grant legislative franchise for e-sabong firms remain pending at the Senate committee on public services.

Lacson’s running mate, Senate President Vicente Sotto III, echoed the same sentiments.

Sotto said the Senate has to probe deeper on whether e-sabong can be considered a public utility and carefully study the provisions laid out on the proposed legislative franchise to allow off-site betting activities for duly licensed online gambling firms.

Lacson said with electronic payment systems readily available now, even the youth could bet on online cockfights, which has become a “borderless” gambling attraction as overseas Filipino workers are also patronizing local betting games.

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