PH House Bill 8910 is a complex piece of legislation that was approved by the Philippines’ Congress in February of 2019. The bill serves to enhance several functions of the Gaming and Amusement Board (GAB), the body that oversees professional sports in PH, and works alongside the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), the governing body of the nation’s gambling businesses.
A significant bulk of the language is aimed at the legislation of illegal online cockfighting, or e-sabong. The bill does not seek to outlaw e-sabong. HB 8910’s aim is to legislate the operation of online cockpit fighting rings, regulate all aspects of play, and direct the revenue towards federal coffers. The bill contains formulas that dictate the amount of cockpit betting operations allowable per capita.
The ease of internet access, and the lack of regulation on lawbooks for illegal e-sabong operations has caused the market to thrive in recent years. We cover the full range of the impact on PH gaming laws caused by HB 8910, including what effect it has had on the industry since final passage.
Betting On Sabong In The Philippines
Cockfighting has been a part of Filipino culture for thousands of years and is still a popular betting sport on the island nation. Although there are several legal cockpit operations throughout the country, online cockfighting, or e-sabong is illegal. Despite online cockfighting’s unlawful status in PH, there are many illegal e-sabong betting operations currently in business. HB 8910 serves to remove the presence of illegal online cockfighting avenues and replace them with regulated fighting pits and remote off-cockpit betting stations (OCBS).
What Does HB 8910 Change About Online Gambling Law in PH?
The language in HB 8910 is designed to regulate and control online cockfighting betting operations and route those precious proceeds toward the Philippines tax collector’s office. Offshore betting sites will remain available to Filipino punters and becoming a member will not violate any PH laws.
A full bevy of casino games, slots, table games, poker, and other gambling favorites are accessible in-country via these betting sites located outside of PH jurisdiction. On top of that, online sportsbooks also provide bettors inside of the Philippines the chance to wager on major sports around the globe, such as the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and local sports such as PBA Basketball. If martial arts is your bag, betting lines are available for popular MMA and combat sports like UFC, Boxing, and other forms of full-contact fighting.
Will PH Casinos Be Affected By HB 8910?
Although there will be no immediate affect felt by Philippines’ casinos, it could see new betting opportunities appear in the form of regulated e-sabong, in the near future. Although the sport of cockfighting may appear too brutal for many outside of the region, it is part of the Filipino culture and is a regularly wagered upon national pastime. The legislation has left room to determine the fate of e-sabong in PH, but for now, gamblers will see no change in the PH-based casino gambling landscape.
What Does HB 8910 Do?
House Bill 8910 will serve to do a great many things to regulate gambling in the Philippines and is backed almost unilaterally in PH politics. The bill adds more power to the GAB by providing additional rule-making capabilities and granting some judicial oversight.
Taxes – The bill will regulate and supervise all national sports, leagues, athletes, and officials, and will take a flat 25% tax on athletic ticket sales. A scrape of 3% will be taken on all betting operations.
Athletes – There are also measures included that govern the wellbeing of competitors, providing for routine medical evaluations of fighters before and after bouts, required rest periods, and the organization of a welfare fund for injured competitors.
Other gambling industries receiving additional oversight from PH House Hill 8910 include:
- E-Sabong (Illegal Online Cockfighting) Oversight
- Horse Racing and Associated Betting Terminals
- Jai Lai Games And Betting
8910 establishes an Anti-Illegal Gambling Unit for the purposes of cracking down on illegal betting enterprises and ensuring that current laws are enforced. The legislation also intends to expedite the licensing process by creating a “one stop shop” where promotors of all events that will attract significant crowds and require large venues can breeze through the red tape and get on to the business of making money in PH.
What Does HB 8910 Mean For E-Sabong?
HB 8910 gives the GAB the ability to completely oversee e-sabong gambling regulation and governance. This will bring the act of online cockfighting out of the back alleys and illegal betting operations and into the limelight of legal gambling in the Philippines.
The Games and Amusement Board will set the guidelines for play, betting operations, number of licenses available, and issuance of licenses. All fighting cocks will need to be registered with the GAB, and if they are stolen, the Board will investigate.
The GAB will regulate the live transmission of any sabong video feeds regardless of broadcast venue and will regulate the day-to-day gambling operations based around cockfighting. This includes the establishment of off-cockpit betting stations (OCBS), remote kiosks that accept wagers on e-sabong.
Other oversight provided to the GAB by HB 8910 incudes distribution of sabong fighting facilities, governance of personal cock ownership and importation, and the banning of fights on national holidays. Sabong crowd management, including weapon control, falls under GAB control. The Board also has the ability to ban all other betting when cockfighting is occurring.
Betting on e-sabong has yet to be legalized. HB 8910 has blazed a lawful trail for legal regulated online cockfighting betting and off-cockpit betting stations, but now it is up to the GAB to create, regulate, and enforce the decisions they make regarding e-sabong in the Philippines.