Online cockfighting is one of the Philippines solutions to dwindling gambling tax revenues, but could it sabotage another important vertical? The Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) says they’ve seen lower sales since e-sabong blew up in 2020.
Although online cockfighting is still not legal and regulated, it’s increasing in popularity, and PCSO general manager Royina Garma says that’s a problem. “Definitely, lottery sales are affected by online sabong,” Garma said.
The problem is that cockfighting itself is typically legal. “As far as I know, [the cockpit is] legal because they have permits from local governments. But online cockfights are illegal,” Garma said.
She urged the Philippine National Police, National Bureau of Investigation and local government to go after illegal online offerings. Local governments in particular, who issue permits for cockpits, should investigate if any online offering is coming from their territory. Start looking for webcams, boys!
The PCSO is still struggling from a five-month Covid-19 related shutdown, Garma said. She said the charity agency’s revenue collection dropped by 57.68 percent, from P44.02 billion ($92 million) in 2019 to only P18.63 billion ($39 million) last year.
There’s likely some truth that with cockfighting available online, less people are going out to buy lottery tickets. However, there’s likely a lot more truth that, with a country still partly shutdown by quarantines, a lot of people are out of work and simply unable to afford a lottery ticket, if they can find an open outlet.
Still, if Garma is right, the government is doing everything it can to get cockfighting legalized and taxed as soon as possible. The Philippines House of Representatives have already voted in favor of it, and wait on the Senate to consider the bill.
Legalizing cockfighting will not only allow the government to start generating revenue off the activity and stop a mostly fruitless attempt to shut it down, but also open up opportunities abroad. As Philippines Amusement and Gambling Corporation (PAGCOR) chairwoman Andrea Domingo noted in December, they hope the Philippines could become an online leader in cockfighting, offering it to other regions like Latin America and India.