The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) would accredit eight more e-sabong companies as online cockfight betting is seen to overtake offshore gaming operation in terms of revenue contribution to state coffers.
Andrea D. Domingo, PAGCOR chairman and chief executive officer said the prolonged pandemic has caused major disruptions in Philippine offshore gaming operation (POGO), forcing online casino operators and their service providers to close shop.
But Domingo said that e-sabong, which solely caters to local cockfighting enthusiasts, is filling the revenue vacuum left by POGO that used to lure non-Filipino gamblers, mainly Chinese, to play online casinos.
With the pandemic still raging more than a year since it began, Domingo said the crisis drastically reduced the number of POGO licensees from about 60 to around 33, while accredited service providers dropped to 167 from 300.
“Revenue from POGO remains okay, I think we should be able to generate about P5 billion this year, but e-sabong is doing better,” Domingo said during a virtual forum hosted by the Kamuning Bakery Cafe on Thursday, Aug. 26.
She disclosed that since e-sabong began operational in May this year, PAGCOR’s income from cockfight betting already amounted to P3 billion to P3.5 billion.
“We’re able to generate about P350 million to P400 million a month [from e-sabong],” the PAGCOR chief said.
With public cockfighting events still not yet allowed under the current quarantine restrictions, Domingo said that PAGCOR will accredit more companies to operate e-sabong in the country.
According to Domingo, there are currently 12 e-sabong companies waiting for accreditation.
PAGCOR so far allowed four firms to operate e-sabong, namely E Sports Encuentro Live Corp., Visayas Cockers Club Inc., Belvedere Vista Corp. and Lucky 8 Star Quest Inc.
However, Domingo said PAGCOR has put a cap on the number of online cockfight betting operators to 12, leaving eight licenses still up for grabs.
Meanwhile, Domingo clarified that PAGCOR is not the one that introduced e-sabong in the country, a bloodsport event streamed online whose popularity increased exponentially amid the pandemic.
“PAGCOR did not invent e-sabong, it has been existing since 2013 and has been unregulated. The government did not get any share from its revenues before, which as you know is running into billions of pesos,” Domingo said.