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Solons seek steep casino entrance fee

In a bid to restrict big-time gambling to those who can afford, two administration lawmakers have sought to up the ante of merely entering a casino by proposing a stiff P3,000 entrance fee, saying that the Resorts World Manila tragedy gave them the idea to propose the bill.

Isabela Rep. Rodito Albano filed his version of the casino fee bill while a joint legislative inquiry was being conducted on the Resorts World incident that left 38 persons – casino guests and personnel and the gunman – dead Friday last week.

Under Albano’s proposal, all casino operators in the country, including those operated by the state-run Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corp., will impose a minimum P3,000 entrance fee for guests.

“This act addresses the need to ensure that persons entering any and all casinos have the financial resources to engage in any form of gambling and related activities therein and to strengthen the regulation of gambling activities in the country,” said Albano, a member of the Commission on Appointments.

Misamis Oriental Rep. Peter Unabia filed a similar bill but casino entrance fee was set higher at P3,500 per person.

Albano, who was among the lawmakers who conducted an inspection of the burned portion of Resorts World Manila, stressed that his proposal is mandatory for all casino businesses in the country.

The veteran solon said the tragic Resorts World Manila gun attack and arson has called the attention of many sectors about the “sinister effects of gambling addiction, especially among those who do not have or can ill-afford” the vice.

Police probers have told the House Committees on Games and Amusement, Public Order and Safety, and Tourism that 42-year-old Jessie Carlos, who was tagged as the lone gunman and arsonist in the incident, has apparently went amuck as result of heavy indebtedness due to extreme gambling addiction.

Currently, casinos impose fees ranging from P200 to P300 as entrance charge.

Under the Albano bill, the P3,000 entrance fee will be collected only from persons who enter casinos “for the purpose of engaging in any and all gambling related gaming activities.”

Exempted from payment of the fees are personnel and management officials of the gaming establishment.
(Ben R. Rosario)