Some major players in the online cockfighting or e-sabong business which has been banned by the government are still hurting out for lost incomes even as they expressed regrets over alleged economic displacement of an estimated 3.2 million Filipino workers affected by the prohibition.
“Aside from the employees of licensed eSabong operators, many agricultural and blue-collar workers from business like commercial farm and backyard breeders, game fowl buyers, feeds producers and veterinary services were also adversely affected by the ban which was imposed about two months ago,” they said.
The sources pointed out that micro and small enterprises such as sari-sari stores that used to benefit during cockfighting derbies have likewise experienced drastic cuts in their meager incomes.
“Online betting stalls that hired workers during the popularity of the game have found themselves unemployed since May,” they said.
Elvira Tan, who used to operate an e-Sabong shop on Quirino Ave. in Quezon City, said she was constrained to let go of her eight employees in the aftermath of her lost business.
“Yung mga tauhan ko. Walo sila. Lahat tinanggal ko na kasi ano pa ibabayad ko sa kanila,” Tan said.
“Wala, hikahos talaga sila. Kung makikita nyo lang halos hindi na sila kumakain, kukurutin talaga puso nyo. Naawa ako kasi wala naman sila ginawang masama o nilabag na batas tapos sila ngayon nagdudusa,” Tan said in an interview.
At its peak, the eSabong industry reportedly generated P650 million per month in revenue for the state-run Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR).
At least P1.37 billion was collected from the seven licensed eSabong operators from January to March 15, 2022. With e-Sabong out, PAGCOR projected a revenue loss of up to P5 billion for 2022.
Meanwhile, the country’s unemployment figure reached 2.93 million in May, higher than 2.76 million in April according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
Then President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the termination of e-Sabong last May 3.
According to Ellaine Gorobao, human resource manager of Lucky 8 Star Quest which was one of the seven eSabong operators licensed by PAGCOR, the company was forced to retrench 350 of its employees without benefit of 30 days’ notice as they complied with the suspension order. “The sudden order of PAGCOR to stop our operations immediately caught us by surprise. Stop operations agad-agad. Wala ng trabaho bigla. Wala man lang 30 day notice.,” Gorobao said.
Before ending his six-year term, however, Duterte expressed ‘regrets’ over his decision on e-Sabong, even encouraging lawmakers to re-assess its possible resumption. “
E-Sabong gives the government P642 million a month. In one year, it gave the government billions,” Duterte said.
The country has already lost nearly P2billion in revenue, which could have been used to finance our COVID response, education, infrastructure among others. Tan said.