Macau’s Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd is not the only casino investor that will be prevented from having a gaming venue on the Philippine holiday island of Boracay (pictured), according to a senior official. Any existing operations there will also be barred from reopening when the island welcomes back tourists on October 26 after a six-month closure reportedly for an environmental clean-up.
The report – by the ABS-CBN television network – of Monday remarks by Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, Secretary of the Department of Tourism, didn’t mention existing venues by name. In March, Roy Cimatu, the country’s Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources, had mentioned another gaming project planned for Boracay and reportedly involving Philippine entrepreneur Andrew Tan.
Ms Romulo-Puyat said the Boracay casino ban was in accordance with a directive from President Rodrigo Duterte. The ban is said to include casinos that may be have been operating before the island was closed on April 26, ABS-CBN News reported.
“He has even instructed the Department of Tourism to close down the existing casinos in the island. So there will be no casinos at all in Boracay,” Ms Romulo-Puyat stated.
In additional remarks, Arturo Boncato, Tourism Undersecretary, was quoted as telling reporters: “I have to check the existence of casinos there. There are resorts. If there are resorts doing casino operations, we have to ascertain their permits, if they are really operating with permits.”
The website quoted the chairman of the Philippine House of Representatives committee on games and amusement, Gus Tambunting, as saying in a text message that only the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) – the country’s gaming regulator – had the direct authority to close any casinos, whether on Boracay or elsewhere.
“I do not believe the Department of Tourism can shut down existing casinos for the simple reason that Pagcor has primary jurisdiction over all casinos,” Mr Tambunting said.
Galaxy Entertainment vice-chairman Francis Lui Yiu Tung told a news conference in Hong Kong last Wednesday that his company believed it would be allowed to put a casino-resort on Boracay, despite Mr Duterte’s ban.
Last month, the Philippine News Agency quoted a government spokesman as saying that “no construction” of new casinos would be allowed on Boracay. As early as April, Mr Duterte’s spokesman, Harry Roque, was reported by Reuters news agency as saying that new casinos would not be permitted there.
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