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Prospects of “e-sabong” Resumption in the Philippines

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    Rooster-fighting in the Philippines is a traditional form of entertainment where two roosters engage in a fight. Often, it leads to the death of one of the Rooster-participants. This sport is named “sabong” in the Filipino language; it has a long history and deep roots in Philippine culture. Specially bred and trained roosters, referred to as “sabong” or “gameroosters,” are typically used in Rooster-fights. The battles take place in a circular arena called “sabungan,” where owners place bets on their birds and observe the match.

    Today, we discuss the background of the betting ban on this activity and explore when will “e-Sabong” resume and, if so, when it might happen.

    Background of E-Sabong Suspension

    E-Sabong is banned in the Philippines due to the current government’s policies. Now, Charlie Ang’s, the largest operator of Rooster-fights, awaits the re-legalization of this activity. At the same time, the interim government insists that this bloody sport will remain prohibited despite its contributions to the budget.

    E-Sabong is a live broadcast of Rooster-fights, allowing players to place bets online without being physically present. Despite being a popular sport in the Philippines, Sabong online was officially banned in 2022 by then-President Rodrigo Duterte. He linked Rooster-fighting to the rise of violent activities and the proliferation of other social issues.

    Filipinos hoped the betting ban would be lifted when Marcos Jr. became president. However, the interim government and the future president’s administration stated that the government would not jeopardize the moral values and family principles.

    It’s worth noting that President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to ban Rooster-fights was made despite the fact that this industry contributed approximately 640 million pesos to the Philippines’ budget each month.

    Factors That Could Influence Resumption

    E-Sabong is being officially banned in the Philippines, but it remains a popular sports activity among locals. Currently, there is still the opportunity to place bets online. Online sabong exists in a legal and an illegal gray area: it is legal if online players are not betting on real matches. Filipinos freely bet on virtual online sabong matches or attend real sabong sports events and place bets there.

    On almost every Sabong betting site, four of this traditional sport’s most popular betting markets are represented. These markets are:

    • Favorite to win (Meron betting market) – players place bets on the Rooster that will become the favorite.
    • Underdog to win (Wala betting market) – players place bets on the outsider Rooster.
    • Draw betting market – players place bets on the match ending in a draw.
    • “Both will die” betting market – players place bets on both Roosters dying.

    Given the popularity of e-Sabong, the resumption of betting would also benefit the government. There is a sharp shortage of funds in the Philippines’ budget. Additional revenue from bets could help solve this problem.

    Charlie Ang’s Defense of E-Sabong

    Charlie Ang, the founder of a company that organized electronic Rooster-fighting, insists that the legalization of bets will only have positive aspects. According to him, a 100-peso bet allows low-income people to improve their financial situation with a correctly predicted outcome.

    Before Duterte suspended e-sabong earlier this month due to social costs, the Enga Pitmasters platform paid Pagcor monthly taxes of 135 million pesos, according to the Bloomberg edition. According to the report, it was collecting 2–3 billion pesos daily, with 95 percent going to winning players and the remaining portion to Angu and his agents.

    Charlie Ang also insists that the tendency of young people in the Philippines to engage in Rooster-fighting bets is greatly exaggerated. He said that this addiction could be compared to alcohol and cigarette addiction. In Charlie’s opinion, it is only related to parents raising their children improperly.

    The Charlie Pitmaster Cares Foundation allocates a portion of its earnings to aid needy Filipinos. Charlie also refutes the fact that Rooster-fighting has brought him millions in revenue. He is sure Filipino officials make much more illegal money.

    Recent Signs and Speculations

    According to the latest information, the majority of government members are against the resumption of Rooster-fighting in the Philippines. While e-sabong may offer hope to overcome poverty, it has numerous negative aspects. For example, these bets lead to excessive debts and deaths. One recent situation involved a young man in the Philippines who became so engrossed in Rooster-fighting bets that he accumulated massive debts. Unable to find sources of income to repay the debts, he decided to take his own life. Such incidents occur everywhere across the country.

    Rooster-fighting bets have led to the disappearance of over 26 people nationwide. So far, there is no information on their whereabouts.

    With a high probability, the legalization of betting on Rooster-fights is unlikely to happen in the near future due to all the negative aspects associated with this sport.

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