Philippines – PAGCOR agrees to ban casinos on BoracayBy Phil - 23 October 2018
Philippine gaming regulator PAGCOR (the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.) has said it will cancel all casino licenses, current and future, effectively banning gaming on Boracay Island, as requested by the Boracay Interagency Task Force (BIATF).
Jose Tria Jr., special assistant to the Pagcor Chairman, said there were only two casinos in Boracay with licenses issued by the agency; the planned property by Macau’s Galaxy Entertainment Group and the existing licence held by Alpha Allied Holdings, which operates a casino inside Movenpick Boracay.
An order for the closure of Alpha Allied’s casino has already been released whilst the Galaxy license has been indefinitely suspended.
“That’s the order of the President. He doesn’t want gaming in Boracay,” Tria said.
BIATF had demanded that PAGCOR annuls the licenses of all casino owners on the island after it was reopened to holiday makers last week. Galaxy had wanted to build a US$500m integrated resort in collaboration with Leisure and Resorts World Corp. although the project has been at the centre of controversy with President Duterte continually slamming its prospects saying he will never allow it to happen. Other casinos already in operation on Boracay include Crown Regency Resort and Paradise Garden Resort.
BIATF’s letter stated: “In view of the pronouncement of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte that no casino shall be allowed in Boracay Island, and in the light of the mandate given to it through Executive Order [EO] No. 5, Series of 2018, the [BIATF] requests that any and all gaming franchise/s and/or provisional license/s in Boracay Island shall be cancelled by your good office. We shall be grateful for your timely cooperation on this matter for the protection of one of our nation’s most treasured islands.”
Galaxy Chairman Lui Che Woo had stated in August that the company was ‘very confident’ of the project coming to fruition.
“When Galaxy negotiated with the Philippines government, our plans were to turn Boracay into an internationally acclaimed island,” he said to CNBC. “We want to restore the beautiful natural scenery to how it was before. Our plans are for a low-density environment, like in the Maldives, instead of a big casino floor like in Manila or other places that are dense or busy. We want to lure high-end customers to come and enjoy and to help the Philippines lift its status. It is no longer the top-tier natural scenic place it once was due to pollution and sub-standard facilities.
“Gaming will actually be a small portion, we expect a few dozen tables, as this is not our focus for Boracay. We hope it’ll become a truly good tourism spot and return it to the beautiful island it once was. This is very different to what is being said out there.
“We’re waiting for the final decision from the government as to how it wants to develop Boracay. We will follow their directive to achieve their goal.”