Galaxy executives clearly have a monumental task in front of them. They want – still – to try and convince Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte that Boracay is the perfect spot for its $500-million casino resort. Duterte has repeatedly called the once-popular tourist destination a “cesspool,” ordering it closed for six months. He has also gone so far as to declare, “There will never be [a casino in Boracay].”
It had previously been announced that the project was being pulled completely, but now it is simply “on hold” according to the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (PAGCOR), which oversees gaming regulations in the country. Galaxy was already given a provisional license for the casino by PAGCOR, but once President Duterte took his stance on Boracay, everything halted. In an interview with Reuters, PAGCOR’s president, Alfredo Lim, said, “They (Galaxy) have to probably explain to the president the advantages and that they will comply with the environmental laws.”
President Duterte has apparently decided that gambling is evil, and has gone so far as to say that he wouldn’t approve any casino project in the country. Galaxy’s chairman, Lui Che Woo, along with the director of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and other representatives recently met with Duterte to try and convince him of the benefits of the entertainment complex Given Duterte’s propensity for stubbornness, that meeting probably didn’t go as the casino backers had planned.
At the beginning of the month, Duterte announced the closure of Boracay Island for a “six-month rehabilitation project” beginning on April 26. The result is the possibility of about 30,000 employees in tourist-related positions losing their jobs. However, Duterte has gone further, stating that he plans on giving the land to the farmers following the end of the rehabilitation period.
The Galaxy integrated casino project, if it’s allowed to proceed, would supposedly generate $100 million in revenue annually for the company. The company had already acquired the land and had begun working on the final designs before the axe dropped, with Duterte stating that gambling has “deleterious effects” on gamblers.
On a positive note, Duterte announced on April 29 that the six-month closure could be reduced. He said that he will defer the decision to his Cabinet, explaining, “I do not interfere in the work of the Cabinet members.” If Boracay is indeed closed for six months, it could mean the loss of $38.72 million in revenue to the region.