Philippine e-Sabong Bigger Than All Vegas Sports Betting Combined

Over the years, we’ve reported on sabong betting with some regularity.

However, because our focus is on online gambling rather than in-person gambling – and because sabong has historically been a live betting sport with no online component – we haven’t covered it as much as a dedicated “all-things gambling” site might.

However, now that e-Sabong gambling has gotten off the ground in the islands – and because it’s a major point of controversy and contention in the upcoming Philippine national elections – we’ve been discussing it more than usual.

But one thing we’ve never done is discussed how truly massive sabong/e-Sabong betting is.

That’s because, until recently, nobody’s had reliable numbers for the market.

But as the sport has moved onto the Internet, it’s opened itself up to more public regulatory reporting, which means it’s opened itself up to more public news reporting.

As a result, we’re finally able to put Philippine cockfighting into perspective on the monetary side.

It’s also important to note that a lot of our readers aren’t from the Philippines. As a popular tourist and expat retirement destination for citizens of the West, the Philippines gambling market is a subject of much curiosity for those who want to spend time in the nation but don’t want to give up their gambling activities or betting lifestyles.

So, for them (and perhaps for you), we decided to offer some context and a few points of comparison to show the world just how big Philippine sabong – specifically eSabong – actually is.

Now, these revelations aren’t necessarily prompted by the most welcome of news.

Remember, PAGCOR – along with the Philippine Senate – is investigating the disappearance of 31 eSabong aficionados.

These aficionados, however, aren’t gamblers or high rollers. Instead, they are apparently cock owners and/or possibly even low-level cockpit employees.

The story – put forth by Ramon T. Tulfo in his usual flowery way (via The Philippine Star) – suggests that the disappearances are the result of the alleged victims engaging in tiope, or match-fixing.

In cockfighting, tiope is when a bird’s owner injures his cock before a match and then – along with friends and acquaintances in the know – bets the other way.

As sabong/eSabong is considered a gentleman’s game – and because it is now more heavily regulated in the Philippines than ever before – this kind of behavior is more than frowned upon by actual cockpit operators.

Thus, it’s suggested that Charlie Ang, owner of Lucky 8 Star Quest Inc., ordered the cheaters to be dealt with.

While this conspiracy is unproven and may hold no merit, it seems to be the course of investigation currently being undertaken by authorities.

Ang, for his part, says that despite the missing persons being last seen at his cockfighting properties, there is no truth the allegations and that any suggestion otherwise is a smear promulgated by his business rivals.

Remember, there are seven licensed eSabong operators in the Philippines, and Lucky 8 is one of the biggest players in the market.

But just how big can eSabong actually be for these kinds of extreme measures to ever be merited?

Most westerners look at sabong as a sort of hyperlocalized pastime, with impromptu cockpits cropping up in barangays across the islands with informal gatherings assembling to place small wagers on the events of the evening.

While that definitely happens – there is a large sabong black market, remember – the betting sport is very organized at the licensed commercial level.

And it’s organized and regulated because it makes a tremendous amount of money.

During an interview with the Senate, for example, Ang disclosed his own company’s numbers. According to Ang – and borne out by regulatory filings – Lucky 8 (as just one of seven eSabong license-holders in the Philippines) collects PHP 60 billion a month in sabong/eSabong bets. The company’s revenue is roughly PHP 3 billion per month.

Converted to USD, that means that Lucky 8 customers are wagering roughly $1.15 billion each month, of which Lucky 8 keeps around $57.4 million.

Over the course of a year, that means Lucky 8 collects around $13.8 billion in cockfighting bets and earns a revenue of $689 million.

For the sake of comparison, Las Vegas – considered to be the sports betting capital of the world – took in a record $1.1 billion in wagers in October 2021. Then, in January 2022, Vegas broke its own monthly handle record by processing $1.11 billion in bets.

In terms of revenues, Vegas books earned $48.3 million in October and $49.9 million in January.

Lucky 8 Star Quest Inc. – again, as just one of seven eSabong license holders in the Philippines – regularly outperforms the best that the entire Las Vegas sports betting market has to offer.

That’s how big sabong is in the Philippines.

And it doesn’t matter what country you’re from or what betting market you’re talking about – those numbers are absolutely massive.

And, ironically, eSabong is the one online betting market that no offshore Philippine casino or Philippine sports betting site offers.