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Online Cockfighting

Whether you consider cockfighting to be barbarism or sport is irrelevant. The truth is that this historical practice of pitting bird against bird has been part of Philippine heritage for centuries. Aside from the huge gambling connotations associated with cockfighting, or sabong, it seems that the impact of the sport has not gone unnoticed. Not least by the beady eye of Pagcor, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp, which is currently in negotiations with Philweb the Philippine Internet service provider, to launch a lucrative online cockfighting website.

Edward King, Managing Head of Entertainment for the state owned gaming firm, Pagcor, said that he was not sure when the Telesabong website would launch, as he is still in talks with Philweb as to how the system would actually work. "We're still testing the waters but 'sabong' is a potentially lucrative opportunity for us. On the other hand, we can't say when we'll have this up and running since Philweb would be the one doing the market study”.

With the provincial parts of the Philippines without Internet access, exactly how the practicalities of reaching an online cockfight will be met has yet to be seen and is bound to be a ‘head scratcher’ for Philweb; but it seems that the potential of the ‘Telesabong’ vastly outweighs the pitfalls of taking sabong into cyberspace.

Of course whether this is the Philippines just ‘upping the ante’ in the evolution of gaming; or just keeping up with the gaming habits of its geographical neighbours, we cannot tell. Either way, the progression from gravel pit to cyberpit is a natural one, with the popularity of the sport being so strong that it is simply a question of time. It seems that the time is right for Pagcor and Philweb to make the capital gain.

Philweb chairman Roberto Ongpin, spoke to the Manila stock market of his extreme optimism about the “potential of this new format”, in the wake of the popularity of cockfighting.

Pagcor on the other hand is keeping tight lipped about the intricacies of the marketing strategies for the sport. Edward King responded by saying that he did not know how lucrative the system would actually be; although in a statement to shareholders, Philweb’s suggested figure points to the sum of 60 billion pesos per year($1billion).

The date for operation is still unknown and game formats have yet to be stated, although Singles, Parlays and Derby Champions can be betted upon. Despite the infancy of the concept, consternation about online cockfighting is already stirring the fans of the real thing. How far Pagcor and Philweb go towards keeping the adrenaline thrill of the bloody cockpit alive is still to be seen.
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