A Game of Chicken: Online Cock Fighting to Join Philippine Online Casinos’ Legal Push

October 20, 2020 3 min read
by Thomas Wolf

Ever fancied putting on a pair of roosters fighting to the death? Us neither, but it is a surprisingly popular activity in the Philippines – and one that may soon be available to bet on online in the country.

The head of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp, PAGCOR, said this week that legal wagers on cockfighting streams might be in the pipeline as part of the country’s long-awaited legalized gambling market.

Thousands of Filipinos already work for shady Philippine Offshore Gambling Operations (POGO) that aggressively target illegal Chinese customers – as we reported on at the beginning of this year.

It was only natural, especially with the ongoing Chinese crackdown on illegal gambling, that legal online casinos would come to the Philippines eventually.

Legitimate and Licensed Operations

POGOs were very big business, accounting for huge swathes of Manilla’s rented office space at any given time.

The fact that many of them are shutting up shop or moving to legitimate markets in the face of the Chinese clampdown may give impetus to the case for legal online gambling within the Philippines’ own borders.

Whatever the negotiations between PAGCOR and controversial strongman president Rodrigo Duterte will look like, it’s safe to say that just six months ago, few would have expected that they would include cockfighting.

“PAGCOR can issue the proper regulations in order to license and legitimize operations of local online sabong, [the local name for cockfighting]” PAGCOR Executive Andrea Domingo told ABS-CBN news this week.

She continued, “In this way, bettors will be protected and regulated, legitimate and licensed local online sabong operations will be identified and will be allowed to operate, and the Government will be able to collect proper fees and taxes.”

Dangerous Game

It’s hard to argue with that – especially as illegal cockfights have seen many Filipinos gather together against the local COVID-19 pandemic guidelines.

Moving the events to online streams will not only bring in revenue but also discourage gamblers from attending fights in person and possibly spreading the potentially fatal disease.

Cockfighting itself can be dangerous for human spectators – never mind the lethality for one or even both feathered contestants.

In January this year, a blade-wielding rooster killed a 50-year-old onlooker at a cockfight in Andhra Pradesh, India.

In 1974, the Philippines chose to make sabong safer for everyone involved by legalizing it on Sundays and regional holidays.

However, all events were canceled this year because of the coronavirus pandemic – but that clearly didn’t bother cockfighting rings enough for them to stop.

PAGCOR head Andrea Domingo thinks that legally moving the space online and away from real events will make shutting down the illegal operators much easier.

“Once this is established, the National Bureau of Investigation and Philippine National Police will be able to identify the illegal operators and apprehend them accordingly,” finished her statement to local news.

Police across the country have been fighting a losing battle trying to stop people cockfighting despite making mass arrests (including three police officers) after an operation targeting illegal cockfights back in July.

For the latest updates on the intriguing relationship between The Philippines and online gambling, plus other online casino-related news from around the world, keep checking our pages!

Author

Thomas Wolf

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Online Cock Fighting to Join Philippine Online Casinos

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