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Pagcor: Better to have separate regulator for e-sabong

Angelica Y. Yang - Philstar.com
Pagcor: Better to have separate regulator for e-sabong
E-sabong involves remote betting on cockfights.
Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. is pushing for a separate regulator to oversee the e-sabong industry, saying it would rather distance itself from virtual betting on cockfights to focus on other responsibilities.

The e-sabong industry has been under fire following the disappearances of over 30 people linked to the online betting. The Senate held four hearings on the incidents earlier this year. 

E-sabong contributes about P650 million a month to the government, based on latest estimates.

"I would really encourage that there would be an independent regulator for e-sabong, away from Pagcor...E-sabong has contributed eight to 10 percent of our total income, but because of the controversies surrounding it, the remaining 90% of our operations are affected," Pagcor Chair and CEO Andrea Domingo said in Filipino on Kapihan sa Manila Bay with journalist Marichu Villanueva on Wednesday. 

At present, the agency regulates the online betting activities, while local governments oversee the live cockfighting games.

One less activity to regulate

Should e-sabong be removed from Pagcor's responsibilities, it would have more time to focus on regulating "present offerings" and participating in the Anti-Money Laundering Council, Domingo said.  

Anti-money laundering laws cover casinos, including online and ship-based ones. The AMLC is working with Pagcor and related government agencies to enforce the law. 

Domingo added that the removal of e-sabong from Pagcor's responsibility will also lower its earnings targets.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier defended the e-sabong industry, saying that the government needs revenues from the online cockfighting games since they fund expenses which are not in the budget.

Senators previously signed a resolution urging Pagcor to suspend e-sabong operations across the country until the disappearances linked to e-sabong operations are resolved, but Malacañang allowed operations to go on

In a March 8 memorandum, the Palace ordered the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation to probe into the disappearances, and told Pagcor to check whether operators were complying with licensing requirements and commitments. 

Appeal for Comelec's exemption 

On Wednesday, Domingo said they are asking the Comelec to exempt them from the public works ban from March 25 to May 8, a day before the elections, so they can continue their social responsibility programs.

The ban covers public disbursement, spending and construction activities unless otherwise allowed by Comelec.

"For all our ongoing projects, we've been trying to get an exemption from the Comelec to allow us to continue with them because we want to finish the evacuation centers, the multi purpose halls, the hospitals, the procurement of hospital equipment and the purchase of food for relief and non-food relief goods," she said.

ANDREA DOMINGO

COCKFIGHTING

E-SABONG

PAGCOR

PHILIPPINE AMUSEMENT AND GAMING CORP.

RODRIGO DUTERTE

SABONG

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