The Philippines’ House of Representatives has launched a probe on the supposed proliferation of unauthorized online cockfight betting in the country.
According to a report of the Manila Bulletin, the probe stemmed from the complaint of the officials of the state-run Philippine Racing Commission (PRC), which claimed that the gambling scheme resulted to their diminishing annual gross sales.
The heart of PRC’s problems lies with off-track betting sites being used as conduits to offer “e-Sabong,” PRC chairman Andrew Sanchez told the House Committee on Games and Amusement. While betting on cockfights is not illegal in the Philippines, Sanchez casted doubt on whether the use of off-track betting (OTB) sites are legal.
On the other hand, Games and Amusement Board (GAB) disclosed during the same meeting that it gave its blessing to the Manila Cockers Club, a subsidiary of the Manila Jockey Club, to livestream and show events from their authorized cockpit in Binangonan, Rizal.
Former Palawan Gov. Abraham Khalil Mitra, now GAB chairman, said legal studies are being conducted to determine which agency has authority over OTB sites.
But GAB officials washed their hands over the issue on giving authority for OTB sites to air and collect bets on cockfighting, saying that the matter falls under the jurisdiction of the local government units (LGUs).
The Local Government Code grants local government units the authority to issue regulations and permits for operation of betting sites.
At this juncture, Quezon City Second District Rep. Winston Castelo cautioned GAB for encroaching the boundaries of the National Telecommunications Commission, which he said is in the better position to permit the showing or airing of online cockfighting.
Negros Occidental Rep. Juliet Marie L. Ferrer, on the other hand, felt alarmed by the disclosure of the PRC that she urged her colleagues to conduct of a deeper investigation on the matter.
With the government stands to lose valuable revenue from tax collection due to the unclear jurisdiction over online cockfight betting, Ferrer pointed out that it is best for Congress to determine where the accountability lies.