Philippine gaming regulator suspends Resorts World Manila casino operations

Other integrated resorts asked to submit security blueprints following fatal June 2 attack  

 MANILA -- Resorts World Manila will not be able to resume casino operations until the Philippine gaming regulator rules on the company's liability for the attack on June 2 that killed 37 staff members and guests, including foreigners.

Andrea Domingo, the chair of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), said a decision of the board meeting on Friday has been served to Kingson Sian, CEO of Travellers International Hotel Group, the operator of Resorts World Manila, the country's first integrated resort built in 2009 near Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3.

 "The said suspension will remain until Resorts World Manila rectifies its serious security lapses and deficiencies -- which caused not only the loss of lives and damaged properties -- but also placed the Philippine gaming, tourism and hospitality industries in bad light," according to a statement.

Around midnight of June 2, a gunman barged into the parking entrance of the casino. He fired at monitors and set fire to gaming tables and machines using gasoline, according to the police and closed circuit TV footage. The 37 reported casualties died of suffocation, police said.

The gunman, who reportedly burned himself to death in one of the rooms inside an adjoining Maxims hotel, was later identified as Jessie Carlos, 43, a recently dismissed government tax specialist who had been barred by PAGCOR from entering casinos after accumulating substantial debts, purportedly from gambling.

Possible change of law

PAGCOR's decision came after the congress on Wednesday launched its own investigation of the incident, which could lead to the amendment of gaming legislation. Rodolfo Farinas, a senior lawmaker, told ABS-CBN News Channel that the congress should be the one issuing gaming licenses, not PAGCOR, which also runs its own casinos.

During the hearing, which heard from casino and PAGCOR officials, Resort World Manila Chief Operating Officer Stephen Reilly admitted that there had been "lapses" in the security of its facilities.

PAGCOR on Friday required all integrated resorts -- Solaire casino of Bloomberry Resorts, City of Dreams Manila of Melco Crown, and Okada Manila of Universal Entertainment, which are all clustered near Manila Bay -- to submit security and safety protocols to prevent such an incident from happening again.

Reilly, in an interview with ABS-CBN before the PAGCOR order was served, said he could not say when will the casino will open. However, he did say that the company is looking to open the retail shops by end of this week. The Maxims hotel was still closed as of Friday, but the Marriott hotel is accepting guests.