Gambling regulators in the Philippines are grappling with a problem that is likely relatively unique to their local gaming markets. Officials are blaming a rise in unregulated online cockfighting as the driver behind a recent slump in national lottery ticket sales. But could online cockfighting really be the sole driver behind the drop?
Cockfighting is incredibly popular throughout the Philippines and even the smallest towns have a cockfighting pit where locals can legally wager on the birds. Though cockfighting is considered cruelty to animals in most western nations, where it’s almost universally illegal, it’s simply not viewed that way in the Philippines. Cockfighting is a legal form of gambling in most parts of the country, though online cockfighting is not.
Recently, officials from the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) publicly stated that unregulated online cockfighting was the culprit behind a recent slump in ticket sales. In a statement quoted on, PCSO general manager Royina Garma drew a direct line from the lottery dip to unregulated online cockfighting (or sabong as it’s referred to locally) saying, “Definitely, lottery sales are affected by online sabong. The problem is that cockfighting itself is typically legal. “As far as I know, [the cockpit is] legal because they have permits from local governments. But online cockfights are illegal,”
Garma encouraged local authorities, who license in-person cockfighting pits, to crack down on those operators who stream the action. How well that will work at a local level remains to be seen.
Of course another route would be to legalize online cockfighting and take a chunk of the gambling action that accompanies the activity. And that’s exactly what gambling regulators and lawmakers are considering.
What none of the NSCO officials seem to be considering is that maybe unregulated online cockfighting isn’t the culprit behind the lotto slump. Given the fact that plenty of Filipinos are unable to work internationally in the cruise industry (to name just one example) and many others have been quarantined at various points, it’s also possible the impact of the global pandemic is the problem, not online cockfighting.
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