Casinos are often seen as glamorous places where people can win big and have fun. But they are also tempting targets for criminals who want to get rich quick by stealing from the house. In Southeast Asia, where gambling is popular and legal in some countries, there have been several cases of daring and audacious casino heists that shocked the public and the authorities. Here are some of the most unbelievable casino robberies in Southeast Asia that you won’t believe actually happened.
The Manila Casino Massacre
On June 2, 2017, a lone gunman entered the Resorts World Manila casino complex in the Philippines and started shooting at the ceiling and setting fire to gaming tables. He then proceeded to the second floor, where he stole more than 100 million pesos ($2.1 million) worth of casino chips from a storage room. He then barricaded himself in a hotel room, where he set himself on fire and shot himself in the head. The attack resulted in the death of 37 people, mostly from suffocation due to the smoke from the fire. The gunman was later identified as Jessie Carlos, a former government employee who had a gambling addiction and was heavily in debt.
The Poipet Casino Scam
In January 2022, a Thai teenager named Nong (not her real name) was lured by a job offer to work in Poipet, a border town in Cambodia that is known for its casinos and online gambling operations. She was told that she would be a waitress or a cashier, but when she arrived, she found out that she had been tricked into working for a Chinese-run scam centre that operated inside a casino. She and hundreds of other Thai workers were forced to deceive people online into investing in fake schemes, such as cryptocurrency or forex trading. They were not allowed to leave the premises, had their passports confiscated, and were threatened with violence if they did not meet their quotas. Nong managed to secretly contact a volunteer group in Thailand, who alerted the authorities and rescued her and 230 other victims.
The Golden Triangle Casino Raid
In March 2021, a joint operation by Thai and Lao authorities raided the Kings Romans Casino, a notorious gambling hub located in the Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone (GTSEZ) in northwest Laos. The casino, which is owned by a Chinese businessman named Zhao Wei, was accused of being involved in various illegal activities, such as money laundering, drug trafficking, wildlife smuggling, and human trafficking. The raid resulted in the arrest of 27 suspects, the seizure of more than 200 million baht ($6.4 million) worth of assets, and the rescue of 16 victims of human trafficking.
These are just some of the epic casino heists that have occurred in Southeast Asia, where organised crime groups have exploited the lax regulations and corruption in some of the casino towns and special economic zones. These cases highlight the need for more cooperation and coordination among the governments and law enforcement agencies in the region to combat transnational crime and protect the rights and safety of the people.