What do gambling icons Atong Ang and Bong Pineda have in common? They own the only two companies in the country so far that can legally operate online “sabong” or cockfighting.
Ang is the person behind Lucky 8 Starquest, while Pineda is the driving force of Belvedere Corp.
Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) Chairman Andrea Domingo said that, out of the five companies that initially applied for licenses to operate online or “e-sabong,” only Lucky 8 and Belvedere have been able to cough up the required P75-million performance bond.
The other three applicants–Encuentro, Magnus, and Oriental Capital Venture–can’t hold legal e-sabong games yet since they haven’t paid the corresponding fees and taxes, says Domingo.
Meanwhile, Domingo identified at least two online sabong websites that have been illegally operating–kingsportslive.com and sabonginternational.com. Both are said to be owned by congressmen.
“Nakikipag-ugnayan na kami sa PNP [Philippine National Police] na hulihin ang mga online sabong sites na wala pang mga lisensya (We are now coordinating with the PNP in order to crack down on unlicensed online sabong sites),” she said.
Domingo underscored the importance of legal e-sabong operations, especially with the restrictions caused by the persisting coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
“Ang e-sabong ang major source ng funds namin sa ngayon dahil nagsara nga ang mga casinos due to COVID (E-sabong is now our major source of funds following the closure of casinos due to COVID),” the PAGCOR chairman explained.
She said earnings from e-sabong goes to the social funds of the President, who then funnels the money to hospitals and the budget for cash aid to Filipinos amid the pandemic.