MANILA - The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation has banned hundreds of gambling addicts from casinos all over the country to promote responsible gaming.
Pagcor chair Andrea Domingo said out of the 406 gambling addicts banned from Philippine casinos, more than 50% are cases of self-exclusion.
"They asked us to ban them for 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, 5 years. They are saying, 'I cant help myself, please don't allow us to come here,' and we do that," Domingo told ANC Thursday.
The remaining percentage, she said, were banned after someone -- a family member -- asked Pagcor to ban them.
This was the case of a former government employee, Jessie Javier Carlos, who set fire to gambling tables and tried to steal casino chips at Resorts World Manila earlier this month.
Carlos was banned from all Pagcor-regulated casinos about a month before the night of the shooting. Pagcor issued last March 24 a "player exclusion order" restricting Carlos' entry to all state-operated and regulated casinos from March 27, 2017 to March 26, 2018.
At that time, Carlos was already deep in debt due to his gambling addiction, causing a rift in his relationship with his wife and parents.
Domingo said Pagcor has also banned gamblers who become too rowdy or cause a disturbance in a casino.
She said some gambling addicts tend to stay and play overnight in a casino even if he or she had already won hundreds of millions.
"Even if you encourage them to go home na kasi talagang tired na rin 'yung dealers, ayaw yan talaga. Mag-i-stay 'yan," she said.
"Halimbawa meron diyan mananalo ng P150 million. Ayaw pa niya [umalis]. Tapos magdamag siya, tapos malu-lose pa niya 'yung P150 million niya," she added.
(Even if you encourage them to go home because the dealers, too, are already tired, they won't. They'll stay. For example, someone would win P150 million. He will not go home, he'll stay overnight and lose the P150 million.)
ALL GOV'T OFFICIALS BANNED FROM CASINOS
The country’s chief gaming regulator also said all government officials and elected officials are banned from entering all casinos.
Domingo said the policy is they should ban the officials from the casinos and report them to the proper government agency.
"There was a pronouncement by the President that even the first-degree relatives are [banned from casinos]," she added.
Following the incident at Resorts World Manila, Domingo said they will be strict in implementing the rules in all casinos.
She said they task monitoring teams of casinos to roam around the area and look for banned players sneaking in.
Domingo clarified that while the 406 players are banned from casinos, they are still allowed to enter the other facilities of places like Resorts World that has hotels and malls inside.
THE THRILL IN GAMBLING
A renowned Filipino psychologist previously told ANC that gambling addiction is often a "well-kept secret," with its symptoms not as obvious as in drug addiction.
Dr. Honey Carandang, a clinical psychologist, said it is usually the thrill of the possibility of getting "a big amount of money in a short period of time" that hooks a person to gambling.
Domingo said they have a referral system in casinos where players with symptoms of gambling addiction are referred to doctors or rehabilitation facilities.
The Pagcor chief earlier said they are currently preparing a more effective responsible gaming program following the attack at Resorts World Manila.
Domingo said she is consulting financial experts and the Commission on Audit if it is possible for Pagcor to allocate some of their funds to the rehabilitation of gambling addicts.
She said they will also launch a campaign on radio, TV and print to promote responsible gaming. Included in the campaign materials are videos showing symptoms of gambling addiction.