Online cockfighting, or e-sabong as it is known in the Philippines, has quietly resurfaced all over the country. An estimated 200 betting sites have opened under “new mismanagement,” meaning that these websites are back without the prominent e-sabong operator Charlie “Atong” and/ or his “investors.”
The unknown online sabong operator is airing pre-recorded chicken fights where the same set of individuals fight roosters one after another. This means that the fights are not for competition or sport but simply to have two roosters fighting so that people can bet online.
Veteran cockfighters suspect the ongoing online fights are rigged and aired later, giving the operators an “in-house” advantage.
A lawyer of cockfighting suggested calling the attention of the BIR, Malacañang, and the Chief PNP to the fact that this new online sabong is unregulated, does not pay taxes to local and national governments, and is suspected of giving or sharing profits with PNP officials because, despite complaints and reports about illegal cockfights, the PNP are adamant that it is impossible to find e-sabong operators.
Several beneficiaries from the World Pitmasters Cup (WPC) online sabong are “repackaging” a better and socially responsible e-sabong to present to House Speaker Martin Romualdez and hopefully President Bongbong Marcos.
The original operators of e-sabong hope to operate a “new and improved” version of online cockfighting and generate revenues that will add to the government’s coffers and help revive the gamefowl industry.
Numerous cockfighters have agreed that in order to gain support, Atong Ang and his associates need to guarantee that minors will not be able to bet, along with minimum wage earners or laborers. They have proposed that the minimum bet should be raised to 5,000 PHP along with strict rules for engagement.
Some have insisted that all local cockpits be kept open and be allowed alongside e-sabong and for the WPC to promote breeder’s derbies, provincial derbies, and barangay-level competitions to promote the sport and the industry.
Experts have noted that the proposal to Congress and the President will only gain traction if it promotes cockfighting, sportsmanship, and business for all.