The Philippines’ President, Rodrigo Duterte, has ordered the seizure of all gaming assets in that country belonging to entrepreneur Jack Lam Yin Lok, for the latter’s alleged failure to pay the correct taxes, according to local media reports. Earlier this month, Mr Duterte had ordered the arrest of Mr Lam (pictured) on accusations of bribery and economic sabotage.
Mr Lam is the founder of Jimei Group and an investor in Macau VIP gambling operations. Jimei Group’s website lists the Fontana Casino at the Fontana Hot Spring Leisure Parks at Clark, and Fort Ilocandia Hotel and Casino in Laoag City, as its Philippine operations.
The arrest order against Jimei Group’s Mr Lam was issued just a few days after 1,316 Chinese nationals were detained at premises linked to the Fontana casino.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper reported – citing comments made by Mr Duterte to reporters on Saturday – that while Mr Lam had paid the correct taxes on bets made by players physically present at his Philippine casinos, the government asserted no tax had been paid for online bets originating from players outside the country.
“We were not able to determine how much we have lost,” Mr Duterte was quoted as saying.
President Duterte had previously indicated his willingness to allow Mr Lam to do business in the country on condition that the gaming entrepreneur pay higher taxes than stated in his current contract.
The Philippines Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor) – the casino regulator in the country – has already served a closure order to Fontana casino on December 4, and to the casino at Fort Ilocandia on the following day.
Macau’s casino regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, told GGRAsia last week that it had been trying to contact Jimei Group’s Mr Lam, seeking a detailed explanation of the incident in the Philippines. Its attempts as of that time had been unsuccessful, it added.
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"The [Macau] government has a lead in this subject in regards to what should be done after the [gaming] concessions expire. We will be first listening to what the government will say”
Ambrose So Shu Fai
Vice-chairman and chief executive at Macau casino operator SJM Holdings