The Philippine National Police has recorded “at least” 52 cases of casino-linked kidnappings since 2017, according to new figures released by the agency’s Anti-Kidnapping Group (AKG) this week.
Police have also arrested at least 119 Chinese nationals in connection with the kidnapping cases in that time, the Inquirer reports. In releasing its latest report, the AKG said the rise in casino-related kidnappings could be a result of the influx of online gambling operators across the Philippines which are luring more Chinese players to the country.
It also suggested that aside from the 56 licensed online operators under the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators scheme, there were at least another 30 operating illegally.
“In recent years, the upsurge of hotel and casino leisures in the Philippines led to the influx of Chinese and other foreign nationals in the country,” the AKG report said. “Thus, incidents of kidnapping related to gambling debt arises from 2017 to date.”