There’s no stopping Macau casino operator Galaxy Entertainment Group (GEG) from constructing a $500 million integrated resort at the heart of the Philippine island oasis of Boracay, not even the island’s impending closure.
In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, GEG’s local partner Leisure and Resorts World Corp (LRWC) said it would proceed with its plan to build its integrated resort in Boracay despite the impending closure of the island.
LWRC announced it had already purchased 23 hectares of land in Boracay as the two gambling operators anticipate Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation’s (PAGCOR) issuance of a casino license.
“Upon the issuance of the said license through the partnership between LRWC and GEG an Integrated Resort will be constructed in the said property,” LWRC said in a statement.
Over the weekend, PAGCOR chair Andrea Domingo said the state regulator will issue a provisional license to GEG and its local partner by the end of March, paving the way for the casino operator to begin its casino project on the island.
She pointed out that GEG and LRWC weren’t concerned about the recommendation of the Philippine Tourism Department and Interior Department to shut the island to give way for its one-year rehabilitation.
Boracay Island, famous for its powdery white sand beach and vibrant nightlife, is the Philippines’ top tourist draw. The Philippines has also benefited from the casino boom over the past years thanks to an improved relationship between Beijing and Manila as well as a stable domestic economy.
Last year, GEG and LRWC sought regulatory approval for the Boracay project. GEG Deputy Chairman Francis Lui even flew to Manila in December to meet Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in Manila and discuss the casino operator’s intention to get a slice of the Philippine gambling market as the firm looks for new growth engines. Lui told Duterte that the casino operator wanted to help China in fostering strong diplomatic relations with the Philippines through increased trade.
In January, President Duterte ordered a moratorium on new casinos in the country in order to let the existing brick-and-mortar facilities mature first.
When asked whether GEG’s application was covered by the casino ban, Domingo said GEG and LRWC “met all the requirements before the President announced the moratorium.”
5 killed in Waterfront Manila Hotel & Casino fire
In other Philippine casino news, at least five people were killed and 24 others were injured when a 25-hour inferno razed the Waterfront Manila Pavillion Hotel & Casino over the weekend.
Rappler reported that the blaze broke out at around 9:30 a.m. Sunday and was quelled at 10:56 a.m. Monday. The fatalities include four PAGCOR employees, according to fire officials.
Shares of Manila Pavillion operator Acesite Hotel Corporation tumbled by 7.19 percent to PHP1.29 (US$0.025)
The Philippines’ Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) officials said firefighters had difficulty putting out the fire since the hotel was heavily lined with combustible materials, such as carpets and curtains, which produced heavy smoke. It also didn’t help that the hotel’s sprinkler system was defective.