$11m casino scam in the Philippines
S'poreans responsible, claims politician. -TNP
Are Singaporeans involved in a syndicate which caused casinos in the Philippines to lose 400 million pesos (S$11 million)?
Media reports have it that in just one week, three government-run casinos lost the money to a foreign gambling syndicate.
Mr Danilo Suarez, the deputy minority leader of the Philippines' House of Representatives, told reporters on Wednesday that "five to six" Singaporean players had rigged games at a casino to bag the money.
And they were so slick, they did not raise the suspicions of the casino's management.
This was reported in the daily Manila Standard Today earlier this week.
Mr Suarez said the gang pulled off the scam by having one player wear a small camera on the wrist to scan the cards and transmit the information to another accomplice.
But an official from government agency Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor), who spoke on condition of anonymity, disputed Mr Suarez's claims.
The Pagcor official said that one of its casinos, Casino Filipino Paranaque, did indeed lose money to a foreign gambling syndicate, but the amount was only 150 million pesos.
He added that on May 9, with the help of closed-circuit TV, casino detectives arrested three foreign players holding Chinese and Malaysian passports while the group was playing baccarat at the airport casino.
The Pagcor official said: "Found concealed under the wrist of one suspect was an electronic device with a camera which had a trigger which, when pushed, turned the camera on and recorded the sequence of cards every time he cut the new set of cards on the gaming table."
But the trio fled the country when they were allowed to post bail after being charged in court.
The criminal complaint is now pending at the Paranaque Regional Trial Court.
Following the arrests, security has been tightened and 11 customers at the Casino Filipino Pavilion were caught using improvised gadgets to rig the slot machines, the Pagcor official said.
Despite the 150 million pesos loss, Pagcor still managed to post an all-time high gross revenue of 3.03 billion pesos for the month of May, the highest in history, the official added.
On Thursday, Mr Suarez countered that two other government-run casinos, in the Manila Pavilion Hotel and Heritage Hotel, also lost 250 million pesos to thesyndicate.
He said: "All told, the government lost 150 million pesos in the Paranaque casino, which they confirmed, 100 million pesos in Manila Pavilion and another 150 million pesos in Heritage Hotel.
"The losses amounted to 400 million pesos and these are public funds."
He also wanted to know why the members of the syndicate were allowed to post bail and allowed to flee the country without Pagcor recovering the money first
This article was first published in The New Paper.
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