For gamblers used to online slots, casino tables, and coffee-klatch poker games, the world of cockfighting seems like a mere blood-boltered shambles. However, from underground fights in the US to a national pastime in the Philippines, gambling on cockfighting remains a multibillion-dollar industry.
This week, for example, has seen a glut of cockfighting-related headlines as law enforcement and activists attempt to battle the blood sport.
activists in Mississippi claim to have discovered three cockfighting rings
In just the US this week, the FBI confiscated 120 cockfighting spurs from a UPS shipment center, Texas law enforcement arrested a man with 16 fighting roosters on his property, and activists in Mississippi claim to have discovered three cockfighting rings using a network of informants.
A global issue
Cockfighting isn’t just taking place in the US either. On Monday, police took in six people for running cockfights in Rangoo, Pakistan. On Tuesday, a dozen people were arrested in Cambodia for the same crime.
Justice doesn’t always come from by way of the law when it comes to cockfighting. Three weeks ago, two men in India were killed by a fighting rooster.
In 2007, Louisiana became the last state to criminalize cockfighting and it is a felony offence in 42 of the other states. In India, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act made cockfighting illegal in 1960. Cambodia did the same in 2009.
A profitable industry
There are also plenty of places where cockfighting remains legal.
Cuba has state sponsored-arenas for the sport and in Madagascar and the Philippines cockfighting has a popularity equivalent to soccer in Europe.
Last year, Charlie Ang, the CEO of Lucky 8 Star Quest Inc., told the Filipino regulators that his company earned about ₱60bn ($57m) per month from its 5% vig on cockfighting bets. Lucky 8 is just one of many companies serving this market.
trainers are even the semi-regular targets of kidnappings
The gambling on cockfights in the Philippines alone is worth billions of US dollars per month, You can watch matches live-streamed on gaming sites. The stakes are so high that trainers are even the semi-regular targets of kidnappings.
Even so, activists in the Philippines are fighting to ban the sport, but getting regulation in place requires a laborious effort from community leaders.
If you want to be part of the effort to fight cockfighting, a good place to start is donating or volunteering with local or national animal rights charities.
In the US, the Humane Society works with lawmakers to toughen up existing laws and provide training and specialist support to local and federal law enforcement.
In the UK the RSPCA serves a similar role.