Satur­day oc­u­lar

Tempo - - News - Jul­lie Y. Daza

AF­TER a fire set off by a loser at a casino on June 2, where 38 per­sons in­clud­ing the ar­son­ist lost their lives, is it busi­ness as usual in the three newer casi­nos in a city where life is a con­stant gam­ble be­tween the lucky ones and the less fa­vored?

The chance to find out came when a friend in­vited me to a nongam­ing so­cial event at one of them. I quickly ac­cepted the in­vi­ta­tion, sure that I could look all I wanted at the peo­ple com­ing and go­ing even without en­ter­ing the casino proper. From the lobby, what I saw was a sight for sore eyes if those eyes be­longed to an op­er­a­tor or man­ager: Yes, the casino floor with its glit­ter­ing lights at 2 in the af­ter­noon of a pay-day Satur­day was full of play­ers. I didn’t think kib­itzers were wel­come, but not be­ing an habitue I was op­er­at­ing on the as­sump­tion that play­ers and gam­blers are more awake and ac­tive at night, but not at si­esta time.

Cu­rios­ity hav­ing got­ten the bet­ter of me and without pre­am­ble I ap­proached the guard, a woman in a large-size blue uni­form. I asked her point­blank if busi­ness had been af­fected by the Re­sorts World Manila in­ci­dent. Star­ing into my face with an ex­pres­sion both stern and sus­pi­cious, she said, “It has al­ways been the same.” Per­haps she thought I was cas­ing the joint and up to no good? Good for her; we need sus­pi­cious guards, maybe of­fi­cious ones, too.

The fact is that “ex­cept for RWM” af­ter the at­tack, “the casi­nos in E-City are do­ing well and meet­ing all their tar­gets.”

You can take that state­ment of Pag­cor Chair­man An­drea Domingo straight to the bank. Just to play it safe, I texted my friend who hap­pens to be her me­dia girl, Twin­kle Valdez, to let her know I would be do­ing my own oc­u­lar within the hour. Twin­kle’s re­ply: “The in­te­grated re­sorts in E-City have pre­sented their height­ened se­cu­rity mea­sures to Pag­cor, whose direc­tors will wit­ness the drills that will be con­ducted, once they are sched­uled. As for RWM, they have in­creased se­cu­rity with armed guards, hired an in­ter­na­tional se­cu­rity agency, and in­stalled more metal de­tec­tors and X-ray ma­chines.”

Any­one will­ing to bet that af­ter a while peo­ple will for­get what hap­pened, and then RWM will bounce back, good as new? One thing about gam­blers, so I’ve been told, is that they’re peren­ni­ally look­ing for a lucky spot.

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