Reversing Cock-ups

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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte banned online cockfighting amid an outcry over the industry following the disappearance of dozens of workers and concerns over the social impact of the betting sport, CNN Philippines reported Tuesday.

Duterte said during an address that “e-sabong will end tonight” – referring to the local term for online cockfight betting. Officials said the ban is due to the social cost of the centuries-old game.

Cockfighting is a popular sport in the Philippines, which sees two roosters – wearing bladed spurs – spar to the death. The traditional practice took a hit during the coronavirus pandemic as many arenas were forced to close.

But the government granted franchises to seven companies to host the sport and take bets online 24 hours a day.

Duterte had previously rejected calls to end the practice, saying e-sabong generated about $12 million in monthly tax revenue.

But his reversal came after the kidnapping and suspected murder of 34 people who had supplied roosters to a licensed e-sabong operator. Authorities suggested the individuals that disappeared had sabotaged the roosters to lose fights and then bet on the opponents, according to Agence France-Presse.

Even so, many also worry that the easy availability of e-sabong has resulted in a spike in gambling addiction.

In one instance, a young woman was accused of selling her eight-month-old toddler to a buyer to pay off her e-sabong debts. Police said the baby was later found and the buyer arrested.

Meanwhile, traditional cockfighting operators have also been cautious of the internet version, which they claim has essentially monopolized the sport’s revenue.

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