Galaxy Entertainment Group (GEG) will have to find a new home for its US$500 million Philippines integrated resort after the government confirmed on Wednesday that it would not be granting the Macau gaming giant permission to build on Boracay island.
Speaking at a press conference in Hong Kong, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque told reporters, “There will be no new casino in Boracay,” backing comments by President Rodrigo Duterte stating his opposition to Galaxy’s plan.
Duterte said on Monday, “I don’t have plans there for casinos. There are enough, there is too much – casino here, casino there. Consider Boracay a land reform area. I will give it to the farmers first. I will issue a proclamation that all of the land will be agricultural.”
The news comes just three weeks after GEG and its Philippines partner Leisure & Resorts World Corporation (LRWC) were granted a provisional gaming license by gaming regulator PAGCOR for their integrated resort. LRWC also purchased a 23-hectare site on Boracay upon which the resort was to be built.
Ironically, Roque claimed on Wednesday to be unaware that GEG and LRWC had been granted a provisional license by PAGCOR.
“I do not know how this will be resolved but as far Boracay is concerned, [Duterte] wants the people to benefit from Boracay,” Roque added.
“Of course, we welcome all investors, but I think the President has already addressed the issue of a new casino in Boracay. There will be no new casino in Boracay.”
In a statement released after Roque’s press conference, PAGCOR pointed out that the license it issued was only provisional and didn’t guarantee the granting of a full license.
“The provisional license is only the start of a very long and tedious process of compliance that every integrated resort operator must go through before they can be issued by PAGCOR a Notice to Commence Casino Operations and eventually, a regular casino gaming license,” it said. “PAGCOR, being a government entity under the Office of the President, abides by the laws and orders of the land.
“As regulator, it ensures that its licensees comply with pertinent laws, rules, regulations and ordinances promulgated by authorities relative to the establishment and operation of casinos.”