Philippines to Probe Casino Security Breach After Deadly Attack

  • Regulator to audit all casinos after deaths at Resorts World
  • Security, building design, safety protocols to be reviewed

Philippine security forces and its gaming regulator will investigate possible security lapses by Resorts World Manila after a gunman set fire to its casino in the capital and fumes choked at least 36 people to death on Friday.

The government is concerned about “a possible negligence by Resorts World not only in casino security but also in building design and safety protocols,” presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella told government radio on Saturday. The Philippine Amusement & Gaming Corp., which regulates and also operates some casinos, will do a full audit of all gaming companies, he said. Resorts World Manila spokesman Owen Cammayo didn’t immediately reply to a mobile-phone call and message seeking comment.

The Philippines will also tighten anti-terror measures, Abella said, even as he maintained that based on police evidence, the attack on the casino wasn’t carried out by a terrorist as Islamic State has claimed, but by “an emotionally disturbed person who was apparently engaged in a criminal action.”

The attack on the Manila casino near the city’s international airport terminal came after a group of militants linked with Islamic State occupied Marawi City in the southern Philippines, prompting President Rodrigo Duterte on May 23 to place the Mindanao region under martial law. The death toll in Marawi has risen to 177 and the government is seeking to end the crisis in the south, Abella said.

Lone Gunman

The Manila gunman, whom police said acted alone and whose identity is unknown, entered from a parking area with a rifle and carrying gasoline but wasn’t stopped by a female guard at the entrance, according to Metro Manila police chief Oscar Albayalde. The perpetrator burned gaming tables, fired shots and stole 113 million pesos ($2.3 million) worth of casino chips before setting off fires on upper floors. He was found in Room 501 at 7 a.m. Friday, burned beyond recognition after setting himself alight, police said.

Casinos run by Bloomberry Resorts Corp. and Okada Manila said they have intensified security. Bloomberry said it has “direct links to police authorities should an untoward incident arise,” and security measures are implemented around the clock.

Resorts World Manila followed emergency protocols to ensure the safety of guests and employees, it said on its official Twitter account. Stephen Reilly, chief operating officer of Travellers International Hotel Group Inc., which owns the casino, said Friday that its guards didn’t engage the gunman to avoid escalating the situation. Reilly also said the hotel’s sprinkler system functioned as it should have, with the deaths caused by smoke inhalation. A casino security guard shot the attacker before he committed suicide, Reilly said.

— With assistance by Ian C Sayson

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