Tolentino: Next Congress will set guidelines for regulated ‘e-sabong’ ops

It will be up to the next Congress to set guidelines regulating the multi-billion peso ‘e-sabong’ (online cockfighting) operations, Senator Francis Tolentino on Wednesday, April 20 said.

This would-be measure would make it clear which government agency would supervise and set the rules on e-sabong operations, he explained.

The proposed law would also determine how much taxes should be imposed on the operators and bettors, he added.

The measure would be framed in consultation with the Department of Finance (DOF) secretary, he stressed.

Tolentino issued the statement after the Senate Public Order and Dangerous Drugs Committee chaired by Senator Ronald ‘’Bato’’ dela Rosa terminated its hybrid public hearing last Monday.

The hearing was focused on the alleged illegal e-sabong operations and the missing 34 cockfighting aficionados or "sabungeros". They have not been seen since they attended cockfights in Manila, Batangas, and Laguna.

Tolentino asked why taxes are not imposed on e-sabong operators as well as the winning bettors.

Dela Rosa is of the belief that e-sabong operations should be conducted during Sundays and holidays only, and not the current 24-hour daily operation.

Senators had asked President Duterte to stop e-sabong operations following revelations that losers, including policemen, commit crimes. One even sold her child just to pay her gambling debt.

Tolentino had argued that e-sabong operations must be regulated by a Congress-issued franchise, not the license given by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor).

The national government gets some P642 million a month as its share in the 24/7 e-sabong operation.

This is a pittance compared to the P3 billion gross monthly income of gaming consultant Charlie ‘’Atong’’ Ang, who has an e-sabong license.