PAGCOR Chairman and CEO, Andrea Domingo, has issued a strong hint that Hong Kong-listed Landing International Development Ltd will be given the green light to develop Manila’s fifth integrated resort provided it can find a suitable plot of land.
Landing revealed in September that it is currently searching for land within Manila’s Entertainment City precinct after being given formal notice by Nayong Pilipino Foundation (NPF) that its original land lease deal had been terminated. It also revealed that PAGCOR has requested the company submit a proof of ownership or lease of land within 180 days from 10 September 2019 or its provisional gaming license will be either revoked or suspended.
However, speaking at a press conference on Tuesday for the upcoming G2E Asia @ the Philippines, Domingo made notable reference to Landing when discussing the ideal number of casinos the Philippines should allow. Pointing to the four current casinos either open or under construction within Entertainment City – Solaire, Okada Manila, City of Dreams Manila and Westside City Resorts World – Domingo added, “There will be a fifth one here if they are able to get land, which is very sparse.”
Asked about a moratorium placed on new casino licenses by President Rodrigo Duterte, Domingo said the ban would remain in place, “Until the President lifts it or until the next President will no longer ban it.
“For the whole country we have not been accepting any applications for licenses since January 2018 because that was when the ban was imposed.”
Despite the moratorium, the fact that Landing already possesses a provisional gaming license would likely allow it to proceed with any new Manila IR development.
The company was issued with a provisional license in July 2018 after submitting its application the previous year and subsequently broke ground on a planned US$1.5 billion IR in August 2018. However, in a bizarre turn of events, it was revealed on the afternoon of the groundbreaking that Duterte had fired the entire board of NPF earlier that day, accusing it of granting Landing a “grossly disadvantageous” 50-year land lease deal.
Landing, which owns and operates Jeju Shinhwa World in South Korea, said last month it “will try to find another piece of land for the development of the integrated resort, and the Company will make further announcement … in case of any update on the project.”