THE SOCIAL costs of online cockfighting outweigh its revenue gains, said an opposition senator on Sunday, calling out the President’s refusal to order a stop in operations.

“There is no reason to allow e-sabong (electronic sabong, the Filipino word for cockfighting) to continue to operate if it brings more harm than good. The government should not be prioritizing the huge profits from gambling. Instead, what should be explained to people is its negative effects, especially to the youth,” Senator Leila M. de Lima said in a mix of English and Filipino in a statement.

“We can always recover economic losses by other means or sources, but the social costs and harm done to our youth’s psyche are irreversible,” she added.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte last week rejected calls to suspend online cockfighting operations in the country, saying the popular game is a major source of income for the government.

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., which regulates the online game, collected about P3.69 billion from the operations of eight e-sabong licensees from April to December last year, according to the agency’s chair, Andrea D. Domingo

Ms. De Lima argued that the legalization of gambling and e-sabong has only strengthened the network of gambling lords and their influence over national and local politics, and has been linked to prostitution, human trafficking, money laundering, and kidnapping, among other crimes.

“The government’s revenue can never match a ruined future, especially for the youth,” she said. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan