The Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) has issued warnings to all local casinos to ban known loan shark syndicates victimizing big-time players from their establishments.
PAGCOR Chairperson Andrea Domingo said they keep a scorecard of casinos recording demerits, offenses and violations.
"We have already, I think, given 3 warnings to all casino owners including the ones that we have to ban these people. They are banned personalities from here and if we do catch them, if they are here and allowed to do financing activities then there would be concomitant demerits on the scorecards of their casino," she said.
"May scorecards kasi iyan eh that they have to fulfill, kapag marami na nagkakaroon na ng marami ng sanctions then."
The syndicates monitor losing casino players, particularly foreigners, and approach them to lend them money. If the victims are unable to pay, they are kidnapped and kept inside hotels while loan sharks contact their families for ransom money.
PAGCOR admitted they have a difficult time apprehending loan sharks.
"So far wala kaming nahuhuli, kasi ang problema kapag outside ng casino hindi na namin pwedeng hulihin. So if they go to the hotel then it is the hotel owners' responsibility pero kapag yung aming monitoring group pinapamonitor talaga namin yan at nire-report,” Domingo said.
Domingo added that there is a possibility these loan sharks have a lookout or pointer inside the casino.
"First, lookout din kasi ng casino yun ano kasi yung security ng player at responsibilidad ng casino. Kami kapag nakita namin kapag ganun nire-report sa amin at nagkakaroon kami ng punitive sanctions or measures,” Domingo explained.
Domingo also pointed out that negotiations are between the casino players and the loan shark syndicates. Most of the time the transactions happen outside the casino, making it harder for authorities to monitor the exchange.
PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa said they have saved a number of victims and arrested members of loan shark syndicates.
"A lot of arrest that we made particulary doon sa mga foreigners na may mga loan sharks na nagtatambay dito na nagpapautang yung mga Chinese, Koreans, nagpapautang ng mga nagsusugal, then afterwards kapag hindi nakabayad kinikidnap nila yung victim, marami na tayong na-rescue na ganito,” he said.
“Hindi lang problema sa drug trafficking ang maaddress natin dito, collateral consequence of this action kungdi pati na yung sa KFR maisama natin dito,” he added.
Dela Rosa, meanwhile, warned police officers moonlighting in casinos as financier to gamblers.
"Meron na kaming naririnig na information but hindi pa talaga validated kung may pulis na involved dito. Pero may naririnig kami pero ito ngayon siguruhin talaga natin na ma-address natin ang sitwasyon na yan. Ang pangit naman ano, pulis financier sa casino sa sugal. Binabawal nga sya magsugal, siya pa nagfi-finance ngayon so sobra na iyang pulis na yan. Hindi na iyan katanggap tanggap,” he said.
Dela Rosa said there are times when police security detail are assigned to people under threat who may frequent casinos with their police bodyguards.
"Yung bodyguard, let's face it meron kaming na approve na lagyan ng protective security detail yung isang individual because of the legitimate threat that he or she is facing. Now, kung itong tao na ito pumasok sa casino at yung escort nya sasama doon, for that particular policeman na nag-e-escort doon, he is performing his duty dahil hindi niya pwedeng iwan yung sine-secure nya na VIP pero kung siya mag-iinvolve sa sugal, yung pulis, that's another story," he said.
The PNP received backlash after it was revealed that it provided security detail for the daughter of a convicted "drug queen."