By Billy Begas
Former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano questioned the revenue scheme used in e-sabong and insisted that the government should be earning more from the online gambling operation.
Cayetano clarified that he is opposing e-sabong operations in the country.
“Hindi nagbabago ang aking stand. We should prohibit all forms of internet gambling… … Pero kung pipilitin talaga na kailangan ang pondo, baligtarin natin. Gandahan natin yung terms para hindi naman pagtawanan ang gobyerno,” Cayetano said.
Based on the Senate hearing last March 4, Cayetano said the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) stands to earn only P7.6 billion a year while e-sabong operators can earn around P36 billion.
Cayetano said under the current setup, the operator only pays the government P12,500 per cockfight and keeps the rest of the earnings.
“That means y’ung porsyento lahat nasa licensee. So ginamit mo ang gobyerno, ginamit mo y’ung PAGCOR, kumuha ka ng license, etc., pero ang balato lang ang binigay mo sa gobyerno. Ang kita nasa operator,” he noted.
In stark contrast to the lotto operations, Cayetano said the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) gives the operator, Berjaya Philippines, Inc., a fixed amount of P5.8 billion for a lease period of five years for its technical know-how and software to operate the lottery.
The licensees and agents who accept the bets, however, deal not with Berjaya but directly with PCSO, which earns 20% from ticket sales. An additional 20% tax on ticket sales goes to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).
“If the government says it needs funds, this is the model. Before the pandemic, lotto earned P18 billion a year. In five years, (it should earn) P90 billion, but it pays Berjaya only P5.8 billion,” Cayetano added.
Cayetano warned that PAGCOR officials are risking being sued for “entering into a contract grossly disadvantageous to the government” if they continue with the current setup.
Cayetano expressed his belief that President Rodrigo Duterte is listening to all sides of the issue and that PAGCOR is also taking everything into consideration.