Fontana Leisure Parks & Casino, the controversial casino resort owned by Macau gaming figure Jack Lam, has been “shut down” for the second time in four years after authorities discovered an illegal makeshift hospital for Chinese citizens suspected of COVID-19 infection on its premises.
According to a report by Rappler, Fontana – located in the Clark Freeport Zone north of Manila – was raided on Tuesday by the Philippine National Police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and the Food and Drug Administration, working alongside the public safety department of local regulatory body, the Clark Development Corporation (CDC).
In a statement, the CDC said that following the raid, “Clark officials have ordered the closure and full lockdown of Fontana Leisure Park inside the Clark Freeport. This illegal activity not only violates the law, but also poses danger to individuals who potentially need medical treatment for the deadly disease. CDC does not and will never tolerate this inside the Clark Freeport.”
Fontana’s casino operations were previously closed down in December 2016 following the arrest of around 1,300 illegal Chinese workers inside the leisure park, with Lam – the former Chairman of Macau junket operator Jimei International Entertainment – subsequently accused of trying to pay off Bureau of Immigration officials in exchange for the workers’ release. The allegation was later withdrawn due to “mistaken assumption or interpretation of facts and circumstances,” with the immigration officials involved accused of attempted extortion.
Nevertheless, the bribery scandal ultimately led to Lam’s exit from Jimei International Entertainment, with Philippines gaming regulator PAGCOR also revoking Jimei’s gaming license at Fontana and the Fort Ilocandia Hotel in Laoag City.
Inside Asian Gaming was informed last November that casino operations had since resumed at Fontana.
After this latest scandal, the CDC said it had arrested two men – 45-year-old Hu Ling, said to be the owner of the underground hospital, and 38-year-old alleged pharmacist Lee Seung-Hyun.
“Aside from the operators who are now facing criminal charges, the CDC will also hold to account the management of Fontana for allowing this to happen within their property,” the CDC said.
“We assure Clark stakeholders, the locators, local communities and residents especially that we will not stop until all those involved are prosecuted and punished.”
The illegal hospital, discovered after a tipoff from a “concerned citizen,” is said to have been operating out of a villa on the property.
Pampanga Province was only last week allowed to transition to Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ), having been under the stricter ECQ measures for two months.