PAGCOR considering legal basis of e-sabong suspension

By Benjamin Pulta

March 4, 2022, 2:07 pm

<p>Online cockfighting <em>(Screenshot)</em></p>

Online cockfighting (Screenshot)

MANILA – The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) is torn between a Senate resolution to suspend online cockfighting (e-sabong) operations and possible legal implications.

During the resumption of the Senate hearing Friday on e-sabong and the case of at least 31 missing sabungero (cockfight aficionados), Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs chair Senator Ronald dela Rosa said it would be up to regulators to take immediate action in stopping the operations for the meantime.

“You have the responsibility. You regulate e-sabong and we have a problem with e-sabong so we are expecting that you do your job,” dela Rosa told PAGCOR Chairperson Andrea Domingo.

Domingo said the suspension must have a legal basis.

“Although we do respect the resolution from the senators for us to suspend immediately e-sabong operations, we have to look into the repercussions. In the final analysis, it would be PAGCOR that would be responsible for the final decision,” Domingo said.

Twenty-three senators signed Resolution No. 996 urging PAGCOR to suspend the license to operate of e-sabong operators and immediately stop all related activities until the cases of the missing individuals are resolved.

The resolution particularly mentioned operators Belvedere Vista Corporation, Lucky 8 Star Quest Inc., Visayas Cockers Club, Inc., Jade Entertainment and Gaming Technologies, Inc., Newin Cockers Alliance Gaming Corporation, Philippine Cockfighting International Inc., and Golden Buzzer, Inc.

“Law enforcement agencies are deeply concerned that there might be more e-sabong related abductions and disappearances than that of reported. It appears that the abductions were well-planned and was probably done by trained and organized groups,” read the resolution submitted on February 28.

Businessman Charlie "Atong" Ang, vice president of Lucky 8 Star Quest which runs the Pitmaster online cockfighting, attended the hearing and denied participation in the missing cases.

PAGCOR defines e-sabong as an online, remote or off-site wagering/betting on live cockfighting matches, events, and activities streamed or broadcast live from cockpit arenas licensed or authorized by local government units.

The regulatory functions of the E-Sabong Licensing Department include the development of the regulatory framework, processing of applications, and issuance of licenses to operations.

Arenas are required to install at least four closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras within gaming site premises while additional units may be required depending on the approved site layout to ensure there are no blind spots.

All CCTV cameras must be operational 24 hours and retain recordings for a minimum of 30 days.

According to PAGCOR guidelines, the surveillance system must be capable of providing a reasonably clear coverage of all of the following: activity by players and employees that may constitute cheating or stealing; failure of employees to follow proper procedures and internal controls; treatment of disorderly persons; arrests and eviction; and treatment of ill or injured patrons.

Aside from the ongoing investigation, the Philippine National Police is also checking the mobile phones of its personnel to make sure no e-sabong or other gambling applications are installed.

As of February 21, seven administrative cases have been filed against cops from Regional Office 4-A (Calabarzon), Bicol, Eastern Visayas, Highway Patrol Group, and National Capital Region, with violations ranging from acts unbecoming of a police officer to grave misconduct.

One has been suspended for 60 days, the others for three months. (PNA)