The Philippine Island of Boracay was closed following what were reported to be embarrassing and filthy conditions on the island. In an effort to clean things up, the country halted all activity for six months and plans to welcome tourists back to the sandy beaches on October 26. However, casinos won’t be welcome there when Boracay reopens.
Department of Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat broke the news, but didn’t mention any particular casinos by name. The ban comes from a direct order by the country’s president, Rodrigo Duterte, and will include those casinos that were operating prior to the island’s closure last April.
Romulo-Puyat stated, “[President Duterte] has even instructed the Department of Tourism to close down the existing casinos in the island. So there will be no casinos at all in Boracay.”
Tourism Undersecretary Arturo Boncato told the media, “I have to check the existence of casinos there. There are resorts. If there are resorts doing casino operations, we have to ascertain their permits, if they are really operating with permits.”
There is, however, some existing confusion over who actually has the authority to shut down resorts and casinos. Gus Tambunting, the Philippine House of Representatives chairman on games and amusement, was reported as saying, “I do not believe the Department of Tourism can shut down existing casinos for the simple reason that [PAGCOR, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation] has primary jurisdiction over all casinos.”
In July, the Philippine News Agency said that no new casino construction would be permitted on Boracay. This was reaffirmed by President Duterte’s spokesman, Harry Roque, who told Reuters that no casinos would be allowed.
Despite the presidential order and the seemingly long trail of evidence that supports the ban on Boracay casino construction, at least one casino operator is unfazed. Galaxy Entertainment Group said that it still plans on opening its $500-million integrated resort on the island by 2021.
It would seem that Galaxy is prepared to take on President Duterte in a fight to the finish. Everyone probably already knows how the fight is going to end. Duterte is a staunch opponent to gambling, as he as reiterated on multiple occasions, and has already shown himself to be someone who gets his way.