Loss of e-Sabong in the Philippines Costs the Country Over $87M

One of the last measures Rodrigo Duterte enacted as president of the Philippines before handing over control was to ban e-sabong, online betting on cockfights. It was a decision that some of the country’s financial institutions regret.

Roosters participate in the World Slasher Cup in the Philippines in 2018. The ban on online betting on the events is costing the country and its banks millions of dollars. (Image: Nikkei Asia)

E-sabong was big business for the Philippines, which was part of the reason Duterte permitted it. However, after a number of participants disappeared and people started selling their babies to pay their debts, he pulled the plug.

Since May, the activity has been illegal. Now, according to the Philippine Business Bank (PBP), the country is missing out on PHP5 billion (US$87.65 million) in potential revenue.

Bring Back E-sabong

Roland Avante, president of the PBP, stated that banks always prepare for the worst and know they can lose clients at any time. However, the loss of e-sabong, especially as the Philippines was still rebounding from COVID-19, hit it particularly hard.

Because e-sabong was legal, revenue from the activity made its way to banks, including the PBP. Financial institutions partnered with gaming operators to facilitate their financial transactions, of which a percentage also went to the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).

As a result, according to Avante, the bank was able to weather the COVID-19 storm. Some branches were even able to strengthen and expand their business operations in the communities they serve. However, they are now having to change course as revenue slips.

Avante would like to see some changes. As President Ferdinand Marcos takes over and looks to revamp PAGCOR, this is the perfect opportunity to bring back e-sabong. He asserted that “everybody deserves to be given a second chance,” including e-sabong.

He added that government officials should consider the issue surrounding e-sabong in a larger context. Previously, it supported an entire gambling ecosystem, from operators to bettors to banks. However, Avante also pointed out that strict regulation is necessary to avoid the same issues as before.

3M Jobs Lost

Last month, three months after the e-sabong ban arrived, the Manila Standard reported that the ban affected nearly 3.2 million workers. It also impacted fields outside the gaming industry, hitting blue-collar and agricultural workers, commercial breeders, feed producers and more.

The media outlet spoke with Ellaine Gorobao, the human resources director at Lucky 8 Star Quest. She was one of seven e-sabong operators to receive a license from PAGCOR. However, because of the ban, the gaming property cut 350 positions with no notice.

When it was hot, the e-sabong industry was worth around PHP650 million (US$11.4 million) a month to PAGCOR. From January 15 to March 15, it collected at least PHP1.37 billion (US$24.01 million) in revenue from the licensed operators. Now, it could lose a lot more.

Duterte later came to regret his reaction to e-sabong. As he was preparing to vacate Malacañang Palace after his six-year term, he acknowledged that he had “regrets” over his decision. He also encouraged lawmakers to toss out his decision, which Avante hopes they’ll do.

The post Loss of e-Sabong in the Philippines Costs the Country Over $87M appeared first on Casino.org.

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