Resorts World Manila Cleared for Reopening, PAGCOR Claims Casino Has Addressed Security Shortfalls

Posted on: July 1, 2017, 10:00h. 

Last updated on: July 1, 2017, 12:47h.

Resorts World Manila is resuming operations in the Philippines less than a month after a lone gunman attacked the casino resort and killed 37 people.

Resorts World Manila PAGCOR
Resorts World Manila is back open, but it isn’t “business as usual,” as more security personnel will be carrying firearms in the wake of the deadly attack earlier this month. (Image: Aaron Favila/Associated Press)

On Thursday, the property was fully cleared by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) to open its doors to the space where the horrific events of June 2 took place. The gaming regulator suspended Resorts World’s operating license after the rampage, but in a letter this week, PAGCOR says the casino has taken appropriate measures to prevent a similar tragedy.

“After careful scrutiny and deliberations, PAGCOR has lifted the suspension order,” the agency said in a statement.

Money and Jobs Over Safety

The high death toll from the single assassin was a result of improper evacuation exits inside the casino. In fact, the gunman didn’t actually shoot anyone, other than himself when he took his own life.

Instead, the attacker forced guests and employees to an area on the second floor where they became trapped. He lit parts of the casino floor on fire, and the fumes were what actually killed the innocent.

Just 27 days later, the resort is back open. That might come as a surprise considering the property’s massive size. The game floor alone is 323,000 square feet, and the accompanying hotel has over 1,500 rooms.

But PAGCOR nearly admits the resort, the government, nor the resort, can afford to keep the property closed.

“PAGCOR lifted the suspension in consideration of (Resorts World’s) 6,000 gaming operations workforce, whose livelihood are now affected. Also, the government loses an average of P14 million ($277,000) per day, or P434 ($8.6) a month, as a result of the suspension order,” the regulator reasoned.

“PAGCOR wants to move on… Hence, it is doing what is best and what is legal for the greater good of everyone,” PAGCOR concluded.

Security Detail

PAGCOR’s decision to lift the Resorts World Manila suspension because it “wants to move on” might not sit well with potential visitors and gamblers. However, the federal agency did list a series of steps taken to better secure the casino.

The press release says Resorts World has hired a new security agency and implemented better surveillance systems. It’s increased the number of x-ray machines and metal detectors, and has “doubled up” on deployment of guards with firearms.

Structural engineers have also looked at the integrity of the building, and the fire department has issued an inspection certificate.

But nothing in the PAGCOR statement reveals any changes to evacuation procedures for the space that was utilized by the attacker to kill so many.

Resorts World says the second floor will no longer be used as casino space, but for non-gaming purposes. Whether that means the area will be transformed into office space, or a public area such as a restaurant or bar, isn’t immediately known.