LAOAG CITY — Responding to President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to look into illegal online gaming operations here, the casino operation of the lone five-star Fort Ilocandia Resort (FIR) in this city has been temporarily closed.
The FIR is an affiliate of Fontana Leisure Park in Clark Field, Pampanga, owned by Macau-based gaming tycoon Jack Lam.
Upon instruction of the President, joint authorities of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) in cooperation with the Regional Investigation and Detection Group and the Ilocos Norte Police Provincial Office led by Police Senior Superintendent Jose Melencio Nartatez served the closure order on late Monday afternoon.
Following the arrest of 1,316 Chinese at Lam’s casino in Fontana for overstaying and some violations, the President ordered the arrest of the big time gaming tycoon for allegedly attempting to bribe government officials, including Justice Sec. Vitaliano Aguirre and Pagcor chair Andrea Domingo, and for economic sabotage.
Records from the Bureau of Immigration however showed that a certain Lam Yin Lok, Lam’s known Chinese name, left the country last Nov. 29 for Hong Kong.
In view of this, several employees affected by the temporary closure of the casino pending an investigation were transferred to other branches of Pagcor.
Jayson Perrera, legal counsel of FIR, maintained that Lam has not violated any law, hence he is optimistic the operation of the Fort Ilocandia casino will resume as soon as possible.
Earlier this year, authorities conducted a raid inside FIRC which resulted to the arrest of some Chinese who were accused of online betting but their cases were dismissed due to lack of evidence, Perrera confirmed.
Over the years, pack of Chinese tourists visit Laoag City via chartered flights and they are all billeted at the Fort Ilocandia.
“Our Chinese visitors (at the FIRC) are well-documented Chinese. They come and go at the Fort Ilocandia,” said Perrera. Leilani Adriano/PNA