Philippine casino blamed for deaths, license suspended

Manila (AFP) - Serious security lapses at a Philippine casino contributed to the deaths of 37 people when an assailant set fire to gaming rooms, the industry regulator said Friday as it suspended the operator's license.

The armed attacker, identified by police as gambling addict Jessie Javier Carlos, entered the Resorts World Manila casino and hotel complex on June 2 with an M4 automatic rifle and a bottle of petrol.

Carlos set alight a number of different rooms in the complex, claiming the lives of 37 people who police said died after becoming trapped in the fires. Dozens more were injured in a stampede to escape.

Gaming regulator Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) said Friday it had suspended the casino and gaming license of Travellers International Hotel Group, owner and operator of Resorts World.

"The said suspension will remain until RWM rectifies its serious security lapses and deficiencies ? which caused not only the loss of lives and damaged properties ? but also placed the Philippine gaming, tourism and hospitality industries in bad light," the statement said.

Carlos, 43, was found dead about five hours after initially entering the casino in a hotel room that was part of the complex. Police said he committed suicide by setting fire to himself.

Lawmakers this week slammed the casino management for alleged lax security at the complex and questioned the competence of its security chief.

A widely circulated security video showed the attacker easily gaining entry into the complex despite having an assault rifle.

The attack happened as Philippine security forces were battling Islamist militants who had seized parts of a city in the south of the country, triggering fears it could be a terror strike.

But police insisted Carlos was not a terrorist, rather a deranged gambling addict. Carlos's parents spoke to the media to confirm he was a gambling addict and ask for forgiveness.

Resorts World spokespeople were unavailable for comment on Friday afternoon.