Plans for a casino in Boracay may be back on track after recent gaming regulation developments in the Philippines. In 2018, a moratorium was put in place by President Rodrigo Duterte to stop casino developments. That order has now been removed, and PAGCOR is now able to accept applications for casino property developments once again.
Changes in Policy
According to reports, the moratorium was lifted on August 27. The decision to reverse the policy stems from the COVID-19 outbreak and the impact it is having on revenues generated from the gambling industry in the Philippines.
The decision would increase revenue potential in the Philippines as well as bring back a plan to create a casino in Boracay. Leisure and Resorts World Corp is a gaming investor in the region that was working with Galaxy Entertainment Group in Macau to create a casino in Boracay, ready to spend $550 million. The plan was shut down back in 2018 due to the moratorium.
Andrea Domingo, the chair of PAGCOR, commented that new applications have not been accepted since 2018 when the moratorium was put in place. Now that the policy has been lifted, the regulator can start to receive casino applications for licensing.
Bringing Back Boracay
Back in March 2018, Galaxy and Leisure and Resorts World Corp were given a provisional casino license from PAGCOR. A 23-hectare section of land was purchased on Boracay to create the resort. Plans were in place to get started, but the idea was soon shut down by President Duterte.
The president has long been an opponent of gambling. He introduced the moratorium and then shut down Boracay for half a year to review environmental concerns. At the time, the sewage infrastructure was reportedly in need of upgrading. Duterte said his orders were to clean up the area, so it was shut down to do so.
He then decided that Boracay was to be a land reform area and given to the Filipinos first. After the provisional license was given for the casino in the area, the president came out and said he did not know anything about the plan and that he did not think a casino would benefit the locals of Boracay.
Now it seems the President has changed his tune since the Philippines are struggling to bring in revenues. We shall see in the coming weeks if the Boracay project starts anew and if other areas of the Philippines start to put forth projects to bring casino gaming to the area.