Proliferation of online gambling alarms solon

June 4, 2021 Jester P. Manalastas 154 views

DEPUTY Speaker and Manila Representative Bienvenido Abante Jr. called for an investigation on the proliferation of internet gambling such as e-sabong.

According to Abante, online cockfighting operations gross as much as P1.8 billion a day.

The solon questioned the legality of the internet gambling and wanted to know if the government is earning from it.

According Abante, online sabong is conducted every day, despite a provision in Presidential Decree 449 or the Cockfighting Law of 1974, which regulates cockfighting.

Present law states : “Cockfighting shall be allowed only in licensed cockpits during Sundays and legal holidays and during local fiestas for not more than three days.”

“Araw-araw ang sabong ngayon sa Pilipinas. Ang masakit pa nito, kahit mahal na araw o Holy Week — kahit Biyernes Santo sagrado; kahit ngayong pandemic; kahit bawal ang sabong dahil sa ECQ o MECQ o GCQ — tuloy pa rin ang online sabong,” Abante said in his privilege speech.

The solon questioned how the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) could issue licenses to three companies to conduct online sabong when Section 6 of PD 449 states that “city and municipal mayors are authorized to issue licenses for the operation and maintenance of cockpits.”

“Sa ilalim ng batas, local government units lamang ang may kapangyarihan na magbigay ng lisensya sa mga sabungan at sabong sa Pilipinas. Batas po ito, Mr. Speaker. Sa pagkakaintindi ko, batas lamang din ang puwedeng magbago ng naunang batas. At tayo sa Kongreso ang dapat gumagawa ng batas na ‘yan, kung ‘di po ako nagkakamali,” Abante said.

Abante added that in one day, each e-sabong company held as many as 350 “sultas” or cockfights each day, with bettors required to bet a minimum of P100 per fight.

The minimum gross bets for a single sulta, reaches P5 million, Abante added.

Since a cockfight lasts around five minutes, there could be as many as 12 cockfights per hour, so a minimum P60 million in bets are made per hour.

Abante said in one day, online sabong lasts for 10 hours, so each of the three licensed e-sabong operators handles P600 million bets per day or P1.8 billion collectively.

These issues urged Abante to seek an investigation in aid of legislation “upang malaman natin kung kailangan na nating amyendahan o palitan nang tuluyan ang PD 449.”

Aside from e-sabong, Abante saidt he House needs to take a closer look at other forms of internet gambling such as online bingo and virtual casinos.