E-Sabong Continues to Thrive Despite Ban

Online cockfighting, locally known as e-sabong, was suspended in the Philippines a year ago. However, the activity still thrives and has evolved into smaller, more clandestine operations.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) reported that from July 1, 2022 to August 15, 2023, a total of 1,245 individuals were arrested for engaging in e-sabong activities. Most of the arrests were made by the Central Visayas police with a total of 348, followed by Central Luzon police with 328. The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) also made 200 arrests.

808 cases were being heard by the courts while 437 cases are pending before prosecutors. Of the cases which reached the courts, 322 resulted in a conviction.

Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr., chief of the PNP, said in a statement, “The extensive crackdown on e-sabong underscores our unwavering commitment to the rule of law. The significant number of arrests demonstrates that the PNP remains steadfast in maintaining peace and order in our communities. We will continue to relentlessly pursue those who violate the law, ensuring that justice prevails for the betterment of society,”

Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos has ordered the PNP to stop e-sabong operations in the country as ordered by President Marcos.

The PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG) has stated that it is continuously working with the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to block existing and emerging e-sabong websites. The ACG reported that they have shut down 1,337 e-sabong websites from June 2022 to August 2023.

ACG director Brig. Gen. Sidney Hernia said, “Eradicating e-sabong operations from the digital realm is our resolute objective. Our daily cyberpatrols and collaboration with NTC have resulted in the identification and dismantling of multiple e-sabong websites.”

The ACG admitted that it is difficult to go after e-sabong operations since their operators or master agents have stopped live streaming their games to a larger audience and are now only streaming to a select group of gamblers who were thoroughly screened before being given access to websites.