Administration Sen. Francis Tolentino alerted the Duterte administration to act quickly to protect overseas Filipino workers (OFW) from exploitative e-sabong operators.
According to Tolentino, there is an urgent need for related government agencies to step in following reports that a growing number of OFWs are getting buried in e-sabong gambling debts and can no longer regularly send money to their families here.
Reports reaching the senator’s office indicated that OFWs are able to bet on e-sabong from abroad through e-wallet in the Philippines, contrary to claims that e-wallet services are exclusive only in the country.
But the senator cited related information that this can be bypassed as the claimed security of e-wallet services can be bypassed by downloading an online application called virtual private network or VPN to show the phone user based abroad to be in the Philippines, enabling entry to the e-sabong feature of the local e-wallet services.
Tolentino stressed “literally blood and sweat were invested” by the OFWs just to earn money for their families here so “it should not just evaporate like bubbles what they worked hard for, more so that a big percentage of the country’s economy is leaning on the dollars remitted by OFWs to their families.”
Recalling a Senate hearing on e-sabong last March, Tolentino pointed out the central bank allowed e-sabong features in wallet services, even as it had no legal basis, such as a legal opinion from the Department of Justice allowing the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation to issue a license for e-sabong.
No more than cash gateways in betting
Both GCash and PayMaya clarified that their platforms are just cash in gateways, which means actual transactions during the online cockfights are processed by Pitmasters.
“GCash is just a payment gateway. Betting and playing are on the Pitmaster wallet,” a GCash representative said via text message.
For its part PayMaya, said the platform serves “hundreds of thousands of merchants of all types and sizes with convenient and safe digital payments.”
“Among these merchants are a couple of the Pagcor-accredited platforms, specifically for cash in services. We cannot speak for the user access policies of these merchants regarding their platforms,” a PayMaya representative said.
The BusinessMirror tried using both the GCash and PayMaya platforms to gain access to Pitmasters. Both platforms asked for permission to use existing user data such as name, mobile number, and date of birth, in registering an account on Pitmasters.
Once the registration has been completed, both platforms will redirect users to an in-app cash in landing page, wherein users can essentially transfer money from their e-wallets to a Pitmasters account. Actual betting is done on the web site of the live cockfights.
Image credits: PNA