PAGCOR urged to improve regulation of e-sabong

By Wilnard Bacelonia

April 27, 2022, 6:32 pm

<p>Senator Panfilo Lacson <em>(File photo)</em></p>

Senator Panfilo Lacson (File photo)

MANILA – Senator Panfilo Lacson on Wednesday urged the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) to improve the regulation of electronic sabong (e-sabong).

This, after PAGCOR Chief Executive Officer Andrea Domingo suggested that e-sabong should have an independent regulator so PAGCOR can concentrate on their present mandate to regulate, operate, authorize and license games of chance, games of cards and games of numbers, particularly casino gaming.

Lacson said creating another agency as a regulatory body for e-sabong will contradict the rightsizing of the government.

"Nagra-rightsize tayo ng gobyerno, masyadong bloated, tapos magki-create ka pa ng isang regulatory agency just to regulate e-sabong? Para sa akin, kung sa PAGCOR, PAGCOR na lang. I-regulate ng maayos lang kung ang habol lang nila ay yung revenue out of e-sabong activity (We are rightsizing the government, it's so bloated, then you will create another regulatory agency just to regulate e-sabong? For me, if it is for PAGCOR, let it just be for PAGCOR. Just regulate it properly if they are after the revenue out of e-sabong activity," he said in a media interview during his Ormoc City campaign sortie.

He said Domingo is just being overwhelmed by the e-sabong controversy following reports of the missing sabungeros (cockfight aficionados).

“A good manager should always welcome challenges no matter how difficult," Lacson said.

During her interview at "Kapihan sa Manila Bay" media forum on Wednesday, Domingo said she preferred to have an independent regulator for e-sabong away from PAGCOR.

"’Yung operations ng PAGCOR malawak na. Malaki nga yung contribution ng e-sabong, mga 8 percent to 9 percent are income. Kaya lang, dahil sa controversies sorrounding it, nahahawa yung 90 percent ng operations eh. Pagwala yang e-sabong, ima-minus lang naman yan sa target namin (PAGCOR's operations is already extensive. E-sabong's contribution is also big, around 8 percent to 9 percent are income. However, because of the controversies surrounding it, the 90 percent of the operation is contaminated. Without e-sabong, we'll just deduct it from our target)," she said.

Domingo also said traditional cockfighting operations are controlled by the local government units and PAGCOR just controls the online betting.

"So pagsinabi ng mga tao na bakit noong Holy Week nagkaroon ng e-sabong, kasi may traditional sabong. Binigyan ng mga mayor ng permit na magtraditional sabong at yun ang vinideostream ng mga operators. Wala kaming control dun eh (So when people asked why there are e-sabong operations during the Holy Week, it is because they get mayor’s permits and the operators video streamed it. We have no control over it)," she added.

She said PAGCOR sent letters to the mayors, asking them to explain the rampant e-sabong during Holy Week.

For his part, Lacson's running mate Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Domingo should have suggested her idea during the recent Senate hearing.

"I think that it is a sound idea. Kasi even yung paghingi ng franchise ng e-sabong, public utility ba ang sabong? Yun ang hinihingi ng franchise eh, public utilities eh (I think that it is a sound idea. Because even the franchise request of e-sabong, is e-sabong a public utility? That's what the franchise is asking, public utilities)," Sotto said.

Domingo said the government earned PHP1.8 billion from e-sabong as of April 25. (PNA)