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The loss of e-Sabong in the Philippines costs the country more than $87 million

Since May, e-sabong, or internet betting on cockfights, has been outlawed. According to the Philippine Business Bank, the country has so far missed out on PHP5 billion (US$87.65 million) in potential earnings (PBP).

One of the final acts Rodrigo Duterte took as president of the Philippines before turning over power to his successor was the prohibition of e-sabong, or online betting on cockfights. The sport was significant business for the country, which was part of the reason Duterte first approved it. He pulled the plug when some members vanished and people began selling their newborns to pay their debts.

Roland Avante, Chairman, President, and CEO of Philippine Business Bank (PBP), has spoken out in favour of reintroducing e-sabong. He recently claimed that the loss of e-sabong is putting a pressure on the country as it recovers from COVID-19.

'Bring Back E-sabong,' says Avante

When e-sabong was legal, the proceeds were distributed to banks, including the PBP. Financial institutions collaborated with casino operators to ease financial transactions, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).

As a result, according to Avante, the bank was able to weather the COVID-19 storm. Some branches may even be able to improve and extend their commercial operations in the communities they serve. However, when revenue declines, they are forced to alter their strategy.

As a result, Avante is counting on new President Ferdinand Marcos to bring the sport back. Avante believes that "everyone deserves a second chance," including e-sabong.

He noted that government officials should study the issue around e-sabong in a bigger framework. It used to support the entire gambling ecosystem, from operators to bettors to banks. However, Avante also stated that strong regulation is required to avoid the same problems.

3 million jobs were lost

The Manila Standard reported last month, three months after the e-sabong ban went into effect, that the prohibition affected nearly 3.2 million workers. It also had an influence on industries other than gambling, including blue-collar and agricultural employees, commercial breeders, feed producers, and others.

Ellaine Gorobao, the human resources director at Lucky 8 Star Quest, was interviewed by the media outlet. She was one of seven e-sabong operators licenced by PAGCOR. However, the gambling property cut 350 positions with no notice due of the ban.

When things were hot, the e-sabong market was valued roughly PHP650 million (US$11.4 million) to PAGCOR on a monthly basis. It collected at least PHP1.37 billion (US$24.01 million) in income from licenced operators between January 15 and March 15. It could now lose a lot more.

Duterte later expressed regret for his attitude to e-sabong. As he prepared to leave Malacaang Palace at the end of his six-year term, he admitted that he had "regrets" about his decision. He also urged Congress to overturn his judgement, which Avante expects they will.



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