Resorts World Manila targeted in fatal attack
The Asian poker world has been left in a state of shock after Resorts World Manila, one of the prime poker destinations in Asia was struck by a gunman, who set tables ablaze and killed 38 people in the process.
The gunman was seen on CCTV walking around inside the resort with an assault rifle, and reportedly fired shots, before collecting chips worth around US$2.3 million. He went on to set fire to tables, with the resulting smoke causing the deaths of the 38 victims. The gunman then doused himself in petrol and set himself on fire, before shooting himself.
Casinos have seen robberies before, but an incident of this magnitude with multiple deaths involved is truly unprecedented. The fact that it has happened in a location that has hosted APT events only adds to the sense of shock and disbelief surrounding the incident, which happened in the early hours of Friday.
Confusion surrounds the motive and identity of attacker
Local authorities have given a brief description of the assailant, who has been described as Caucasian, well built, and English speaking. The terrorist group ISIS are reported to have claimed responsibility, but those reports remain unconfirmed amid inconsistencies, such as the theft of chips and the fact that shots appear not to have been aimed at people.
Police have stated that they cannot yet clarify whether the attack was terrorist related, only that most of the victims appear to have died from smoke inhalation.
Poker continues in the Philippines despite tragedy
Organisers of the event made the following statement about the attack:
“The recent incident at Resorts World Manila is tragic and our blessings go to all those who have been affected. Local authorities have stated that this was a robbery, not terrorism, and an isolated case that has been resolved.
The Ninoy Aquino International Airport is back to normal operations and flights are running as scheduled. While there is no immediate threat at hand, City of Dreams Manila has increased onsite security. Therefore, the Manila Megastack 7 event will continue through this weekend as scheduled.”
How will this event impact poker in Manila?
The Philippines has been at the center of a surge in poker interest lately, as operators have sought to host international tournaments in the newly built casino resorts. These events, which included WPT and APPT events along with the Triton Super High Roller series have attracted poker talent from across Asia, and beyond. It remains unclear whether interest from players will be dented by this attack, but at this point there is certainly nothing to suggest that this attack was more than just a random isolated incident.
Security to be upgraded?
The Philippines may not be considered quite as safe as other Asian destinations, but nobody could ever imagine that something like this could take place. The fact that it has, should lead to resorts in the area investing more in security. One of the fundamental principles of a resort such as this is that players should feel safe and relaxed enough to enjoy themselves, and that means that the venue must be secure.
Lawrence Ho, who owns numerous casinos said: “With an incident like this, especially at Resorts World Manila, we certainly would ratchet that (security) up even more…certainly an issue we will buckle down on.”
There will be a palpable sense of worry and sadness around poker tables in Manila today, but everyone involved in the poker scene there will be hoping that the poker community can eventually put the incident behind them and continue to support the fantastic resorts located there.
Article by Craig Bradshaw