BSP: Banks, non-banks have 30 days to terminate all eSabong-related accounts

Published May 25, 2022, 3:33 PM

by Lee C. Chipongian

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said on Wednesday, May 25, that supervised financial institutions (BSFIs) should discontinue within 30 days all electronic sabong (eSabong) transactions after the government suspended the online cockfighting betting activity.

In a memo (BSP Memorandum Order M-022-026), signed by BSP Governor Benjamin E. Diokno on Tuesday, May 24, the BSP said that since the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) has shut down all of its licensed eSabong operators such as gaming websites, BSFIs are also directed to terminate all eSabong related accounts and to “refrain from facilitating eSabong transactions.”

BSP building and logo/Reuters

The BSP instructed all banks and non-banks to delist eSabong entity or operators in the list of merchants accessible in the BSFIs’ application such as mobile and internet.

“Given the possibility of accountholders with remaining funds in its eSabong accounts sourced from their e-wallet accounts, the BSFI should advise affected clients to cash out funds from their eSabong accounts to their e-wallet accounts within thirty calendar days from the issuance of this memorandum,” said Diokno in the memo.

BSFIs are also instructed to issue a notification to their customers and the merchant or eSabong operator of the 30-day transitory deadline for the termination of related accounts.

“After the lapse of the 30-day transitory period, the linkage of e-money wallet to eSabong account should be disabled in the system including the merchant/eSabong operator account,” said Diokno.

Since 2018, the BSP has been regularly reminding BSFIs to deal only with gambling and online gaming businesses that are authorized and licensed or registered with the appropriate government agency such as PAGCOR.

In the case of eSabong, its suspension was ordered by President Duterte himself. Last May 4, Duterte put a stop to eSabong after taking into account the social costs of the online cockfighting operations. eSabong is a huge revenue source with PAGCOR collecting more than P640 million as monthly average but its ill effects on the public is a factor for its suspension.

Meantime, with the memo, BSP is also reminding all BSFIs to follow strict due diligence requirements and monitoring of clients’ accounts and transactions, as well as the reporting of suspicious transactions.

BSFIs are also reminded to ensure that “appropriate control measures are in place to to restrict access of minors, government employees and other prohibited players on these online gambling facilities.”