PAGCOR calls for separate regulator to oversee e-sabong industry

E-sabong operations are in the spotlight after the disappearance of 31 people linked to the industry.
E-sabong operations are in the spotlight after the disappearance of 31 people linked to the industry.

PAGCOR chairman Andrea Domingo says there should be an independent regulator for e-sabong.

The Philippines.- PAGCOR chairman Andrea Domingo has suggested that there should be a separate regulator for e-sabong – online cockfighting – in Philippines. PAGCOR currently regulates online cockfighting while local governments oversee live events, but Domingo says an independent regulator is required due to the controversy involved.

She said that if e-Sabong is removed from PAGCOR’s remit, the regulator would have more time to focus on overseeing current products and participating in anti-money laundering committees. Her suggestion comes after 31 people linked to the e-sabong industry disappeared.

Domingo said: “I would really encourage that there would be an independent regulator for e-sabong, away from Pagcor…E-sabong has contributed eight to 10 per cent of our total income, but because of the controversies surrounding it, the remaining 90 per cent of our operations are affected.”

Domingo added that removing e-Sabong from PAGCOR’s responsibilities would also lower its profit targets.

President Rodrigo Duterte has recently defended e-sabong operations in the Philippines. He says the government needs revenue from online cockfighting because other funds have been consumed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to Philstar, Duterte said: “I need the money from e-sabong for those expenses that are not in the budget, which you can’t get in the budget so you need money from the outside.”

He added: “At the end of the year, if I have the billions at PHP640m a month, then I can use it to help because the pandemic has depleted my contingency plan and the intelligence fund which I gave to the police and military.”

PAGCOR remits US$116.8m to Philippines National Treasury

The regulator has remitted PHP6bn (US$116.8m) to the country’s treasury for 2021. PAGCOR’s most recent transfer included PHP1.04bn in dividends for 2021 and PHP4.95bn in additional/advance cash dividends (which can be included in future dividend obligations). 

The regulator has therefore maintained its status as one of the government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) to remit cash dividends of at least PHP1bn to the government. The agency had remitted PHP5bn in cash dividends and advances for 2020, while cash dividends were PHP18bn for 2019 (US$374m) and PHP16.17bn for 2018.

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