The Philippines government has reiterated its promise to keep Boracay casino-free as it announced plans to reopen the country’s popular tourist spot ahead of the original October 26 schedule, state-run PTV News reported.
Speaking at the second pre-State of the Nation Address 2018 forum in Manila, Philippine Interior and Local Government OIC Secretary Eduardo Año assured the public that the government remained committed to blocking casino construction plans on the island even after it opened to the public. In opposing any casino construction, Año pointed out that people go to Boracay “to swim and not to gamble.”
“First of all, the President (Rodrigo Duterte) had already decided and announced that no construction of casino Boracay will be allowed,” Año said, according to the news outlet.
Meanwhile, Philippine Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu reported that the government is on track with its plan to open Boracay on October 26 after undergoing a six-month major rehabilitation and clean-up drive.
President Duterte ordered the closure of Boracay in April due to findings that it lacked a proper sewerage system. The good news, according to Cimatu, was that the island may open sooner than the initial plan if stakeholders continue to cooperate with the government’s rehabilitation efforts.
In March, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) approved the construction of Galaxy Entertainment Group’s (GEG) integrated resort on Boracay after granting the group a provisional gaming license. GEG planned to start construction of its multi-million dollar resort by 2019.
If allowed to proceed, Galaxy’s casino project would supposedly generate $100 million in revenue annually for the company. The company had already acquired the land and begun working on the final designs before the axe dropped, with Duterte stating that gambling has “deleterious effects” on gamblers.
There had been confusion about the fate of GEG’s project in Boracay after a Philippine tourism official claimed the Macau-based operator has started looking for another venue for its multi-million dollar resort. GEG’s local partner Leisure & Resorts World Corp quickly shot down that statement by saying that they have not yet abandoned the Boracay project.