The Quezon City goverment is running after operators of online cockfighting or sabong in various off-track betting (OTB) stations.
OTBs are originally established to accept horseracing bets only but a group of businessmen introduced online sabong using facilities of the OTBs last year.
And Quezon City has one of the biggest numbers of OTBs with 53 outlets, second only to the city of Manila, which has the highest number of active OTB stations with 58.
There are 230 active OTB stations in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.
First District Councilor Victor Ferrer Jr. said the OTBs that accept online sabong bets in Quezon City only have business permits from the Mayor’s Office, but these are not sufficient, unless there is an ordinance authorizing such activity.
He added that the game needs the explicit approval or grant of a franchise by the City Council through an ordinance to be considered legal.
“The Local Government Code is very clear; it specifically lists cockfighting as one of the amusement activities that must be regulated by the Sangguniang Panglunsod and as such, the taking or receiving of bets for the game and the payment of the winnings within the city, whether conducted live or through whatever means, falls under our jurisdiction,” the councilor said.
Ferrer cited Section 458 of the Local Government Code that enumerates the powers, duties, functions and compensation of the Sangguniang Panlungsod, particularly the specific provision on cockfighting, which reads: “(v). any law to the contrary notwithstanding, authorize and license the establishment, operation, and maintenance of cockpits, and regulate cockfighting and commercial breeding of gamecocks: Provided, that existing rights should not be prejudiced.’
“As it stands, the City Council has not passed any ordinance allowing this so-called e-sabong or online cockfighting in Quezon City, and my view is that these are illegal even though the concerned OTBs have secured business permits from City Hall,” Ferrer said.
The councilor said the city is probably losing significant revenues from the operation of online sabong through the non-payment of the proper amusement taxes and franchise fees.
“Based on reports reaching my office, online sabong in the OTBs generated billions of pesos in revenues in 2016 alone. How much in amusement taxes should we have collected from the operators? How much more can we collect from them through franchise fees?
“I would certainly ask the City Council to look into the details of this online sabong and determine whether the operators have paid the right taxes, if any. We shall also require them to seek authority or franchise from the Sanggunian,” Ferrer said.