Macau casino operator Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd has reportedly shelved plans to develop a casino resort on the holiday island of Boracay in the Philippines, local media outlets reported on Tuesday quoting a government official. The company’s local partner however said the Boracay project has not been “abandoned”.
“Galaxy [Entertainment] has said they are now looking for another site. That is very much welcome,” said Frederick Alegre, assistant secretary of the country’s Department of Tourism, on Tuesday during a press conference in Boracay, as quoted by social news network Rappler.
The Macau casino operator said on March 21 that a wholly-owned unit had been granted a provisional gaming licence by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor), the casino regulator in that country.
Hong Kong-listed Galaxy Entertainment announced in December a US$500-million investment for the holiday island of Boracay, in partnership with Philippines-based Leisure and Resorts World Corp.
The project was however put in doubt as presidential spokesman Harry Roque said earlier this month “there will be no new casino in Boracay”.
GGRAsia approached Galaxy Entertainment and Pagcor for a comment but had received no reply before this story went online.
Leisure and Resorts World said on Tuesday that the partners have not yet “reached any final decision” regarding the plan to build a casino resort in Boracay.
“Contrary to claims that Galaxy [Entertainment] has abandoned its planned Boracay project, no such announcement has been made nor communicated with Pagcor,” Leisure and Resorts World said in a statement quoted by local media.
“Following protocol, no change in plans or project location would be made without prior consultation and agreement with Pagcor,” the listed firm added.
Local media outlet GMA News quoted the head of Pagcor, Andrea Domingo, as saying that she was not aware of any change regarding the Boracay casino project. “I have no information regarding this,” she reportedly said.
Mr Alegre’s remarks were reported a week before a previously-flagged government shutdown of Boracay would begin on April 26. The shutdown, referred to as an environmental clean up initiative, is effective for a six-month period.
In a statement on April 11, Pagcor said the provisional licence had been issued to Galaxy Entertainment’s unit because “Boracay falls under the Greenfield zone category, which refers to an area within rural provinces, cities or municipalities with high potential for tourism development with no existing casino”.
“The provisional gaming licence … was issued after it met all initial documentary requirements, including a ‘Certificate of No Objection’ and a minimum investment commitment of not less than US$300 million,” said the gaming regulator.
But it added: “The provisional licence 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 licence.”
(Updated Apr 18, 7.35am)
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