The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation could be involved in a new controversy after the House of Representatives is set to look into alleged fraud in some of the government agency’s casinos, the Philippines’ Daily Tribune reports.
Spearheading the investigation will be Manila Rep. and House chairman of the committee on games and amusements Amado Bagatsing, who filed House Resolution 2657 that will look into investigate growing concerns of fraud and cheating within Pagcor casinos that could threaten to undermine all the positive press the government agency has received over their record revenue this year.
The Daily Tribune reports that a lawmaker has alleged that Pagcor has been withholding revenue of up to Php 200 million from the government, pointing to separate incidences including one in May 2011 wherein an Internal Security employee was alleged to have walked out with Php 10.17 million in casino chips that would have been attributed to Pagcor’s income from the Casino Filipino Pavilion. Similar incidences allegedly repeated themselves recently, particularly last June 2012, when the Parkway Satellite Casino in Mandaue, Cebu City reported that Php 2.8 million in revenue were also allegedly stolen.
“These disturbing incidents in the casinos were all banner stories in print media and television networks, creating furor among those in the gaming industry and adversely affecting the modern integrated approach of hotel and casino as an entertainment sector in the tourism industry,” Bagatsing said, as quoted by the Daily Tribune.
But the biggest red flag, according to Bagatsing, happened in May 2011 when casino VVIP Ben Lui allegedly orchestrated a cheating operation that resulted in Php 178.266 million in losses for Pagcor.
While some of Lui’s partners were arrested, they eventually posted bail and were released while the purported mastermind was, according to Bagatsing, “able to escape and made his way out of the country”.
The growing number of alleged cheating episodes in Pagcor casinos and the ensuing investigation being launched by the House of Representatives is clearly a black eye for the government agency. Pagcor can’t afford to be cast in this light, especially when it’s in the middle of the biggest project – Entertainment City – in its history.