As of the 31st of December, 2022 – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has reaffirmed the ban on e-Sabong in the Philippines. This comes after reports and speculations that e-Sabong might see a resurgence and will be back in business soon. This announcement from PBBM has finally clarified the country’s stance on how e-Sabong has been a cause of rife among its citizenry especially with the numerous reports and feedback e-Sabong has encountered in recent years.
Former president Rodrigo Duterte also tackled the issue of e-Sabong in the latter part of his term by issuing an executive order banning e-Sabong. PBBM has not only addressed it point blank but has shown a solid commitment to the executive order by Duterte and added more to the parameters of the executive order. He also made sure that the details were duly documented and made known by everyone.
“There is an urgent need to reiterate the continued suspension of all e-Sabong operations nationwide, clarify the scope of existing regulations, and direct relevant agencies to pursue aggressive crackdown against illegal e-Sabong operations, in accordance with the law,” Marcos said in Executive Order No. 9 signed December 28, 2022, Wednesday and made public Thursday, December 29, 2022.
Strife and insufferable effects of e-Sabong
During Duterte’s time as president, e-Sabong has shown its true colour in how it has abominably taken over the lives of common folk. The traditional game of cockfighting had more areas of control on how this is operated and had carried on with regulation under PAGCOR. But when e-Sabong entered the scene, it unleashed easy accessibility to anyone who would like to wager a bet, much more so there was no clear control over how the system operates behind the scenes.
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It has to take a series of crimes — kidnapping took place one after another, people went to the extreme of pawning their babies to pay debts due to gambling addiction, theft and robbery to be able to play the game again, properties sold or mortgaged and suicides when incurred debts are simply too large of a sum to pay off.
The vocal order Duterte was to ban e-Sabong last May 2022. However, the order did not prevent cockfighting from continuing — only the e-Sabong itself having the game available online.
Details of Executive Order No. 9
Marcos cited that banning e-Sabong was an urgent matter coming from the issues the e-Sabong faced, its expansive reach and the lack of resolution in the kidnapping cases. Duterte’s vocal ban on e-Sabong was still showing that e-Sabong had the chance to come back but Marcos made sure these details were clear and addressed succinctly in Executive Order No. 9.
Executive Order No. 9 shows that e-Sabong is now completely and definitively prohibited. The executive order covers any type of wagering on “live cockfighting matches, events, and/or streamed or broadcasted live, regardless of the location of the betting platform.” It’s important to note that the order doesn’t prevent the fights themselves. These are still legal but must follow established laws.
Marcos stated that the Philippine Amusement Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR), the country’s gaming regulator and an operator of casinos, will ensure the prohibition is enforced. It will be responsible for coordinating with governments at all levels, as well as with private entities, to establish enforcement policies.
He also included the Department of the Interior and the Philippine National Police to assist PAGCOR in this endeavour. The regulator will have to provide regular updates on its enforcement efforts directly to Marcos or his designee.
A Changing Environment Toward Gambling
Coming from Duterte’s hesitance to shut down e-Sabong largely due to the revenue it generates for the government — nearly PHP640 million (USD11.5 million) a month — the attitude of the new generation of public officials is showing a different take on gambling.
One major movement is the stance against Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) segment. Illegal POGOs wrought negativity and affected the ones legally operating. The reports of forced labour, kidnapping, and rampant questionable activities shattered the early positive impression given off by the industry.
The series of kidnappings connected to e-Sabong soon followed and this strengthened the perception of gambling in a very bad light especially when it comes to online gambling. There are calls for the government to lay a complete ban on all forms of online gambling but it still hasn’t reached this point.
The latest indication that gambling is not in a favourable light is Pasig City banning online gaming within its vicinity. The city included in its ordinance that all online gaming-related companies – even those that only provide technical services – have a year to leave. If they don’t, they face fines, and possibly jail time.
e-Sabong really went on a rampage when it was implemented and the consequences were too great. I do agree with Marcos on establishing clear guides on the ban. However, if e-Sabong still has a chance to operate underground, this will become an even more dangerous entity to contend with. Hopefully, the team up of PAGCOR, DILG and the PNP will harbour good news and successfully squelch the last of the bad actors. Comment below for any feedback, suggestion or reaction on this matter. Hope to hear from you guys soon, thanks!