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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Thursday, October 18, 2018

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Deadly attack casts a dark shadow over future of Philippine casinos that generate $3 billion each year

Casino business now facing a big challenge to restore confidence

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MANILA, Philippines - After the deadly arson attack in Resorts World Manila, a dark cloud of doubt has been cast over the emerging gaming hub in the country, that enjoys strong government support.> BNN
 
The industry, which is in its nascent stage generates revenues of about $3 billion annually and is only behind Las Vegas and barely a takings in Macau, which is the world leader.
 
Dozens of people were killed in a fire lit by a rampaging suspected gambling addict at Resorts World Manila and the incident is said to have tarnished efforts by the country to draw visitors not only from mainland China, but also other places where casinos are banned and expand the country’s lucrative tourist trade. 
 
The industry is now facing a big challenge to restore confidence in the safety and security of the sector. 
 
In the long run, the industry is facing a challenge of increasing its share of the fast-expanding tourist industry in Asia, against other fierce neighbors. 
 
According to Hans Van Der Sande, chief financial officer of Tiger Resort, Leisure & Entertainment, a big casino developer said before the Resorts World attacks, “The Philippines is gaining ground as a travel destination in Asia. Every time a new large [casino] property has entered the market, the demand has grown to keep up with the supply.” 
 
The Resorts World complex, which is part of Entertainment City, which is a vast development by Manila Bay, has attracted heavy investments by the country’s President Rodrigo Duterte’s government and private developers. 
 
The area includes an elevated road link to the nearby airport so visitors can soar above the capital’s notorious traffic.
 
Earlier this month, 37 people died in the Resorts World assault due to suffocation after a Filipino gunman, who was later revealed to have heavy gambling debts, set light to gaming tables, stole more than $2 million of casino chips and then killed himself. 
 
The industry has also faced criticism for illicit gambling operators in the country. 
 
The Philippine National Bureau of Investigation has said that it is cracking down on what it estimates are more than 6,000 illicit gambling operators in the country. 
Some are believed to be Chinese nationals, who come as tourists and stay on illegally.
 
Martini Cruz, NBI cyber crime head said, “Casinos are being used as a conduit” to finance lawbreaking. 
 
He added that these activities are suspected to include terrorism and piracy. 

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