As the Philippine casino industry reels from the June 2 attack that claimed 36 lives at Resorts World Manila, politicians have blasted the casino for apparent security failings in allowing a gunman to enter the building.

Resorts World Manila, casino charge bill would hurt mass market

Resort World Manila, where a gunman ran amok on June 2, has prompted calls in the Philippine legislature for entry fees for casinos, a move that would undoubtedly damage the sector, analysts say.  (Image: AP)

Now, legislation introduced to the Philippine legislature last Friday proposes imposing a financial obstacle to entering the country’s casinos, in the form of a PHP3000 ($80) entry fee.

Whether this will keep out sociopaths hell-bent on destruction is unlikely, but Morgan Stanley’s financial analysts are pretty certain that it will keep out the mass market, a segment crucial to the continued growth of the sector.         

Impact on Mass Market

Analysts Alex Poon and Praveen Choudhary said in a note on Monday that the “grind mass” segment, i.e, lower end of the mass market, as well as family customers, would in particular be impacted, should the the bill be enacted.

The sector had been enjoying a period of unprecedented growth until Jessie Javier Carlos walked into Resorts World armed with an M4 assault rifle and three litres of petrol, and proceeded to torch gaming tables and slots machine chairs. Most of those who died in the ensuing inferno were stationed in the floor above.    

Much of the Philippine casino sector’s growth had been driven by a boom in Chinese tourism, spurred by the reparation of diplomatic relations between the two countries following tensions over disputed territories in the South China Sea.

But now the industry is tasked with demonstrating to the Chinese middle classes that the Philippines is a safe and secure place to visit.

Carlos Not Poor

Rodolfo Albano III, a member of the Philippine House of Representatives, wants to protect those closer to home, however, with a bill designed to “strengthen regulation of the participation or engagement of citizens in casino gambling by ensuring that those who enter casinos and similar gaming establishments have the financial resources to engage in gambling.”

There was much gnashing of teeth in the Philippine legislature last week about who to

Blame for the massacre. But Carlos, who has been identified as a problem gambler with a grudge, was certainly not poor in the sense Albano means.

He may have been struggling with gambling debts, but he was once a man of means and has even been described as a “high roller.”    

Prior Double Murder?

Meanwhile, details have emerged that Carlos has become the main suspect in the murder of a casino financier and a lawyer just hours before the Resorts World rampage.

A man matching Carlos’ description was seen in the back seat of a car with Elmer Mitra Jr and Alvin Cruzin, before witnesses heard shots fired and saw the man crawl out from the car after it had flipped over and hit the curb. Mitra and Cruzin were found dead from gunshot wounds.   

Police are working on the theory that Carlos owed money and was being “shaken down” by the two men.