THE Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) is expecting to collect P7 billion in fresh revenue each year from electronic cockfight betting, known as e-sabong, assuming that eight operators start operations as scheduled.
“We’re expecting about P7 billion of revenue a year… if we get at least eight operators getting licenses for e-sabong,” Jose S. Tria, Jr., PAGCOR’s assistant vice-president for offshore gaming and licensing, said in an interview with BusinessWorld Live.
Mr. Tria said there were eight operators that have expressed interest in being licensed but only five have applied so far.
Four have won approval but only two have been able to launch operations because they were the only compliant licensees, he said.
“When we examined their operations, processes, there were a lot of changes that we had to impose, especially on compliance with anti-money laundering laws, the manner by which the bets are deposited, (and) the manner by which players collect their bets,” he said.
He added operators have to tighten their restrictions and to accept only players who are of legal age with verified sources of income.
The regulator wants operators to comply with age requirements and to raise the minimum bets for e-sabong to ensure that only targeted players can participate. He said PAGCOR also wants to include a “buy-in” operation in which players need to make sizable deposits to weed out the ones who cannot afford to gamble.
E-sabong is currently gaining traction, Mr. Tria said, with operators reporting a take of about 5% on bets, which range from P500,000 to P5 million per fight. PAGCOR collects a regulatory fee based on the operators’ commissions, he said.
“When we review the figures, this is continually growing, e-sabongs were big during the pandemic (because there was no) in-person betting in cockpits,” he said.
“We’re expecting now with PAGCOR coming in and exercising regulation over the industry (that) player confidence in the game will rise further,” he added.
Gaming and technology company DFNN Group also announced Thursday that it will include e-sabong to its product offerings.
“With the legalization of e-sabong, regulator PAGCOR is ready to tap revenues from electronic cockfights or e-sabong,” the company said in a disclosure.
DFNN said this will allow it to tap a new income stream and contribute more to government revenue.
“Given the experience and reach of the group’s gaming platforms, it is well positioned to take on this new vertical in line with the PAGCOR rules of their approved content, as it has unparalleled capabilities in secure payment solutions, KYC (know your customer) solutions, logistics capabilities, and proprietary IT (information and technology) knowledge to be able to scale rapidly and seamlessly integrate the technology with its other content,” it said.
PAGCOR’s net profit in the first quarter dropped 80% from a year earlier to P152.62 million due to pandemic restrictions on gaming.
Gross income from gaming operations fell 54% year on year to P8.363 billion. — Beatrice M. Laforga