This is an OPEN LETTER to the families of “Resorts World Gunman” JESSIE JAVIER CARLOS, as well as to all the families of the 37 who lost their lives as a result of the incident.
Do not blame Jessie.
Jessie is not alone in a sea of the hapless casino denizens who are subjected to the unfathomable stresses of a gambling addiction. It is a deep deep hole where no soul can thrive. Some make it out, some do not.
I write this letter because I believe Jessie could have had a fair shot at making it out. I believe that the incident that took his life, and that of 37 others, should not have happened.
Do not blame Jessie. Blame the casinos that allowed him entry after March 27, 2017.
Why is that date important? Please bear with me as I explain.
Out of curiosity, upon release of the gunman’s name, I checked the PAGCOR NDRP – the National Database for Restricted Personnel. This is a rundown of all the people that are BANNED from all PAGCOR-regulated establishments. Not only does inclusion in the NDRP mean a person cannot play, it means he cannot even enter the premises! This does not just apply to casinos. A person on this list can’t so much as enter a Bingo hall!
Lo and behold, there was Jessie, banned – as per the request of family members – for one year, as of March 27, 2017.
So now let's review the larger timeline:
Pre-ban, Jessie went on a downward spiral from his gambling addiction. The hole got deeper, and the only way out was to stop digging, first and foremost.
To stop the bleeding and begin the healing, Jessie's family took advantage of PAGCOR's Responsible Gaming Initiative, and filed for a ban on Jessie.
This could have been the turning point in the script.
The ban was executed on a national level, and Jessie was then included on the National Database for Restricted Personnel. MARCH 27, 2017.
Inclusion in PAGCOR’s NDRP – especially at the behest of family members – is SERIOUS BUSINESS.
As per protocol, this BAN ORDER was forwarded to all PAGCOR-regulated establishments. It was now THEIR RESPONSIBILITY to enforce the order.
As of March 27, 2017, with the BAN ORDER in place, was Jessie a man that could still be saved? We will now never know because the ORDER from the government was ignored by insensitive private casino administrators.
This was where the system was failed by negligence. This was where the shackles came undone. This is where a serious order was ignored, and a man that might have healed was allowed to disintegrate further.
There is a huge and provable likelihood that Jessie was able to keep playing - reports say he was still frequenting some major casinos – City of Dreams, Resorts World – well after the ban was ordered by PAGCOR.
This gave Jessie TWO MORE MONTHS of addictive and self-destructive behavior DESPITE his family’s – and PAGCOR's – efforts to save him from himself!
June 2, we can only imagine that the hole was even deeper. Jessie finally broke, and the Resorts World incident was the result.
I cannot blame Jessie.
I am not saying he was a good guy, and I cannot say he was a bad guy. All I know is that when you take away all reason, hope and support, a man will act upon things he only previously imagined.
I blame whichever casino - any and all of them - allowed Jessie to keep playing DESPITE the issuance of the national ban. The establishments that continued to enable his addiction and allowed him to maintain contact with characters who likewise furthered him along the path of destruction – the circle of financiers who not only handed him the shovels, but are also suspected of making an M4 assault rifle available.
Those establishments fuelled his rage and desperation well beyond the point of intervention. They enabled him to destroy himself, and 37 others with him.
Each and every casino that allowed Jessie entry after March 27 should be accountable for damages to Jessie’s family, as well as to each of the 37 families who lost a loved one as a result of Jessie’s meltdown.
As a matter of further proof of ongoing negligence regarding the NDRP, I must share more: I cite as an example two more currently BANNED individuals who are allowed to frequent casinos as if the order did not matter.
These two people - banned for fraud - continue to make fraudulent dealings and misrepresentations within casino walls. Witnesses will verify that one DIRECT result of these frauds gallivanting within casinos is the loss of an innocent’s livelihood. A woman, a cashier who testified with the Pasay Police against the frauds, became a victim of vengeful propaganda at the hands of the banned individuals and was made to lose her job.
I must reiterate where the accountability lies: The casinos who fail to enforce the ban.
I am not saying casinos are bad. I am putting a spotlight on just one major and recurring oversight regarding the NDRP. I personally believe in the good that the casino industry brings us on many levels, which is why I am also a staunch supporter of PAGCOR’s Responsible Gaming Initiatives. We need to take all that good and regulate the bad.
"Pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 1869 as amended by Republic Act No. 9487, PAGCOR...promotes delivery of gaming services in a responsible manner. This Code of Practice sets out rules and guidelines on Responsible Gaming for adoption by all PAGCOR-operated and licensed entities in authorized gaming establishments, in order to minimize potential harm to the individual players and the community..."
PAGCOR’s NDRP exists to prevent further damage when there are people who are out of control. People who can cause serious damage. To ignore the NDRP ignores the very essence of PAGCOR’s existence, and allows one mistake to undo everything we might have built.
As we can now see, the NDRP should have saved lives.
Let us hold those who ignored the NDRP accountable for the damage. If people understood, and did, their jobs, this wouldn’t happen.
Footnote: While proponent-enforcement is obviously lacking, and I highlight it here, PAGCOR can also do much better with the NDRP by doggedly requiring – AND EVEN PROVIDING – professional help for those cases where families come out to seek help. It is a very small return and the least they can do for a person who has in all likelihood already given them so much.