With Chinese gambling lord Jack Lam nowhere in sight, the government has ordered the closure of Fontana Casino on Sunday sending around 500 casino workers out of job.
The casino workers are yet to receive their Christmas bonuses from the Fontana Casino management. They expressed fear they will have nothing to spend this coming Christmas and New Year’s eve.
The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) served the closure order, signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, to Fontana Casino in Clark Freeport Zone.
Last November 24, some 1,316 Chinese nationals had been arrested at the Fontana Leisure Park and Casino where an illegal online gaming facility was discovered.
Joint elements of the Angeles City Police Office and the regional Criminal Investigation and Detection Group along with PAGCOR personnel served the closure order to Fontana Casino at around 5pm on Sunday.
A sign was posted at the door of the Fontana Casino indicating the facility is ordered closed “pending investigation by the DOJ (Department of Justice) of illegal or unlicensed online gaming operations and employment of aliens without proper permits in violation of the Philippine anti-illegal gambling, labor and immigration laws.”
President Rodrigo Duterte, who earlier ordered a manhunt for Lam, chairman of the Jimei Group that operates Fontana and Fort Ilocandia, in Laoag City, Ilocos Norte, has reportedly ordered the closure of the Fontana Casino and the Fort Ilocandia Casino.
Only the casino was closed by PAGCOR. The Fontana villas and its other establishments such as the golf course still operate.
Lam was accused for alleged bribery and economic sabotage after he allegedly tried to bribe Justice Sec. Vitaliano Aguirre II and PAGCOR chairperson Andrea Domingo to have the arrested Chinese nationals released.
The Fontana complex is Jimei’s flagship comprising family-style holiday villas and time shares, hotel, water park, golf, fitness facilities, spa, restaurants, convention space and boutique casino.