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Asia round-up: "E-sabong will end," Philippines Q1 GGR up & Macau latest

Philippines President Duterte orders immediate ban on e-sabong 

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President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines has ordered the immediate termination of e-sabong (online cockfighting) operations in the country. 

E-sabong is the most popular form of gambling in the Philippines, and the move will see the Philippines lose up to PHP600m ($11.4m) in tax revenue, as reported by the Philippine News Agency.  

Duterte’s decision was based on a recommendation from the Philippines Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año, following the conclusion of a survey on the social impact of e-sabong.

The President’s decision came during a broadcast on the Filipino talk show, Talk to the People. 

He said: “[Año] cited the validation report coming from all sources. So, since it is his recommendation and I agreed with it and it is good, e-sabong will end by tonight. 

“[The survey] is loud and it is very clear to me that [e-sabong] was working against our values.” 

Duterte’s move comes as a string of e-sabong aficionado disappearances remains unresolved. These disappearances have increased scrutiny over the legitimacy of e-sabong.

A supposed 23 senators had signed a bill titled Resolution 996, urging the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) to suspend e-sabong operators until the cases around missing aficionados had been resolved. 

Duterte had initially held off calls to suspend e-sabong, instead favouring greater regulations around online cockfighting.  

Critics claim Duterte was holding off on calls to ban e-sabong, owing to lucrative tax returns brought in by the industry.  

It would seem Duterte has silenced those critics for now. However, the backlash from e-sabong fans is yet to be felt by the Filipino Government.

Philippines: PAGCOR revenue jumps 39% in Q1 2022 as restrictions lifted 

PAGCOR has posted Q1 revenue of PHP12.41bn ($236m), up 39% year-on-year. Specifically, income from gaming operations grew 35% from the same period last year to PHP11.29bn. 

Net income for Q1 was PHP624.7m, up significantly from PHP152.6m in the prior-year period. 

Q1 2022 is the first quarter in which the Philippines has been lockdown-free since April 2020, with the country returning to full operating capacity at the beginning of March. Subsequently, income has returned alongside recommenced operations. 

“E-sabong will end by tonight... [the survey] is loud and it is very clear to me that [e-sabong] was working against our values” Rodrigo Duterte, President of the Philippines

Despite these encouraging figures, PAGCOR believes this initial burst of revenue is a symptom of pent-up demand from locals, which has built up over two years. International travellers are yet to return to the Philippines in numbers and the company feels it will take time for tourism traffic to recover. 

Furthermore, it is currently unclear what baring the Philippines’ decision to ban e-sabong will have on these figures; e-sabong, or online cockfighting, has been the most popular source of gambling for several years in the country. The gaming landscape in the country is sure to change without it.  

Macau: Junket agents not required to be local residents 

Macau’s Legislative Assembly (AL) has continued discussions on a proposed bill to clarify ownership of Macanese junkets, titled Legal Framework for Operating Games of Chance in Casinos. 

The Chairman of the AL’s Second Standing Committee, Chan Chak Mo, has revealed the new law will not require junket agents to be Macau residents. However, all junket agents must be fully licensed and be managed by one of Macau’s six concessionaires.  

On the new bill, Chan said: “The law does not require agents to be a local resident... A non-resident can be an agent because there will be a situation where the customer does not speak the same language.

“There is a limit to the number of agents. Junkets need to apply for licenses, and agents need permission to work.” 

He continued: “Management companies will not be able to collect deposits from gamblers, they will only collect management fees from the concessionaire.   

“Also, they can only work with a concessionaire and cannot manage the casino’s finances.” 

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