The Philippine gambling regulator says it will comply with a task force request to cancel all casino licenses on the island of Boracay.
On Monday, local media reported that the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) had sent a letter to Andrea Domingo, chair of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (PAGCOR), requesting that “any and all gaming franchise(s) and/or provisional license(s) in Boracay Island be cancelled by your good office.”
On Tuesday, the Philippine Star quoted Domingo’s special assistant Jose Tria Jr. saying that PAGCOR had responded to the BIATF letter by immediately ordering the permanent closure of all casinos in Boracay. The casinos were supposed to have closed six months ago when Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte — who appointed the BIATF members — ordered the island off-limits to tourists in order to facilitate an environmental clean-up.
PAGCOR further clarified that it had only issued two casino licenses on Boracay, including the unbuilt project proposed by Macau casino operator Galaxy Entertainment Group. Business Mirror had reported that the other casino, an operation run by Alpha Allied Holdings Ltd inside the Movenpick Resort & Spa, had continued operations despite the six-month shutdown order.
Tuesday’s report failed to mention Boracay’s other casino operations in the Crown Regency Resorts and Paradise Garden Resort, which had reportedly complied with the original shutdown order, but this compliance doesn’t appear to have earned them any brownie points. Local television quoted Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat saying that casinos “cannot operate even if you are compliant” with BIATF requirements.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources Undersecretary Benny Antiporda echoed this warning, saying it was Duterte’s order that Boracay “is not a gambling area, it is a tourist area.” Anyone wishing to gamble in the Philippines “should just gamble in Manila” where casinos are abundant.