PAGCOR calls for separate online sabong regulator

PAGCOR calls for separate online sabong regulator

A law that bans online cockfighting, known as e-sabong, needs a separate regulator with sufficient authority to deal with the local governments involved in the trade, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) Chief Andrea D. Domingo has said. “I would really encourage that, that there will be an independent regulator away from PAGCOR for e-sabong,” Ms. Domingo said at an online forum organized by Kapihan sa Manila Bay. “But because sabong is hybrid, there are traditional operations controlled by local government units (LGUs), which means we have no oversight over the fights,” she said. “We only control online betting.” Ms. Domingo also said cockfighting took place over the Easter weekend on the strength of mayors’ permits. “Sabong will happen in studios, then will be video streamed by operators. We have no control over that,” she added.

Last week, Sen. Francis N. Tolentino received reports that e-sabong operator Pitmasters Live recorded more than 200 games on Good Friday, April 15. “So if only one regulator handles (e-sabong), if it is removed from PAGCOR, we can concentrate on our present offerings, on what we should regulate,” Ms. Domingo said. “Our responsible gaming policies would become more effective.” She added that offshore betting on e-sabong was illegal, as PAGCOR has not licensed such activities.

PAGCOR reported a gross gaming revenue of P17 billion, as of April 25. This is an increase of 21.3% over the same period last year. The agency projects earnings of P25 to 30 billion by June. Casino operations regulated by PAGCOR posted GGR of P13.51 billion, while smaller operations, which include slot machines and gaming tables, earned P1.76 billion and over P1 billion respectively. “It would be possible that by the end of the year, PAGCOR would have P60 to P65 billion a year in GGR, almost twice as much as last year’s,” she added. “But for the next half of the year, we really think there won’t be any more upsurge, and if we continue operating at 90%, 100% capacity, PAGCOR should be able to make more in the last six months.”

Ms. Domingo said that as of April 25, licensed casinos generated P8.16 billion in gross gaming revenue, bingo operations earned P2.43 billion, and online gaming operations posted P649.59 million. “We had more than 800 (bingo stations), but after the pandemic, (this total fell to about) 400,” she added. “We had a lot of closures.” Meanwhile, Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations earned P412.18 million in GGR, while e-sabong posted revenue of P1.8 billion.

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