According to a Wednesday online report by Philippine media outlet GMA News, Albee Benitez, Leisure and Resorts World Corp founder and director, says he is looking at “reviving” the firm’s mooted link with Macau casino operator Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd, on a Boracay casino scheme.
Galaxy Entertainment had previously been announced as partner with Leisure and Resorts World on a proposed US$500-million casino resort scheme on Boracay. But the latter firm had announced in late 2019 that it had dropped that scheme, due to Philippine leader President Rodrigo Duterte’s declared ban on casinos for the holiday island (pictured).
Mr Duterte flagged several casino-related policy shifts last week. He permitted lifting of the declared January 2018 moratorium on new casinos that had applied to much of the country, and also authorised resumption of plans for casino development on Boracay. He cited the need for more funds for his administration.
GGRAsia initially approached Galaxy Entertainment last week – when news broke of the Boracay casino ban being lifted. GGRAsia asked for the firm’s reaction, and specifically whether it would like to resume its pursuit of a Boracay scheme. GGRAsia had not received a reply to our initial enquiry, at the time this latest story went online.
Brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd said in a Wednesday note it doubted whether Galaxy Entertainment – which along with Macau’s other five gaming operators is facing the expiry of its current Macau gaming rights in June 2022 – would still have interest in Boracay.
“…in light of China’s ongoing crackdown targeting overseas gambling, we do not expect Galaxy [Entertainment] to pursue any casino developments outside of Macau for the foreseeable future,” wrote Sanford Bernstein analysts Vitaly Umansky, Louis Li, and Kelsey Zhu. Their Wednesday note was mostly about Macau’s gross gaming revenue for August.
Separately, as also reported by Philippine media on Wednesday, local entrepreneur Andrew Tan said his company Megaworld Corp would like to proceed with a previously-shelved plan to build a casino resort on Boracay.
Mr Tan was quoted by several Philippine media outlets on Wednesday as saying: “We will proceed with our casino project in Boracay Newcoast. We already have several hotels there and we are still building more.”
The entrepreneur was also cited as saying that his group was hopeful of a “fast” recovery in the Philippine tourism sector as the world emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic.
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Managing partner at IGamiX Management and Consulting