Imposing taxes on online sabong approved by House panel

The House Committee on Ways and Means on Tuesday approved a bill aiming to impose new taxes on legal online sabong (cockfight) and other legally-operated electronic betting activities.

Joey Salceda, who also chairs the panel, authored House Bill 7919, which aims to make the industry of online sabong and other related games more transparent and accountable.

“The operations of online betting on online sabong are authorized by local ordinances. Because of the digital shift, there are now electronic betting operations on such games. But the electronic aspect of it is a gray area, even though the airwaves is national property,” Salceda said.

“Because of this ambiguity, we are unable to levy national taxes on these activities. By clarifying this gray area in my proposal, we hope to raise multiples more in revenues than the BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue) collection from cockpits of P13.7 million in 2019,” he added.

Under Salceda’s measure, a tax regime will be imposed on “Offsite Betting Activities on Locally Licensed Games,” which exclude “games and activities specifically authorized by law to be performed by the government gaming authorities, such as the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and the Philippine Charity and Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).”

The bill said that the tax imposed is equivalent to 5% of the gross revenue derived from Offsite Betting Activities on Locally Licensed Games. It should not be in place of taxes required by local government units and regulatory fees imposed by government agencies.

Imposing tax on online sabong, other legal electronic betting activities

The bill also authorizes the BIR “to accredit and inspect totalizators and other gambling devices used in the collection, consolidation, and recording of wagers made in offsite betting activities on locally licensed games.”

“While the government seeks new revenue streams to fund its priorities, this bill responds to this government need by imposing new national government taxes on activities that already exist and will undoubtedly continue to exist as digital technologies grow more sophisticated, but are not being imposed such taxes,” Salceda said.

“Unlike other tax proposals which may have adverse socioeconomic impacts and may dampen economic growth and recovery, this proposed regime will not impose taxes on any goods and services essential to the Filipino people,” he added.