Entrepreneur and politician Albee Benitez has made an appeal via Philippine media for Macau casino operator Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd to revisit the idea of tying with the company that he founded, for a US$500-million casino resort on the Philippine holiday island Boracay (pictured).
“It is just a matter of getting [their] comfort level high enough to return,” Mr Benitez was cited by Philippine media as stating in Sunday comments.
Mr Benitez, who is also mayor of Bacolod City, in the north of the country, was linked to DigiPlus Interactive Corp, formerly Leisure and Resorts World Corp. As far back as 2017, the Philippine firm had proposed the idea, and Galaxy Entertainment had at that time indicated interest. Mr Benitez stepped down in 2021 from the DigiPlus management.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer mentioned in its report on Mr Benitez’ latest comments, the factor of diplomatic relations between China and the Philippines playing a role, as Galaxy Entertainment’s customers in Macau “are mostly Chinese”.
GGRAsia has approached Galaxy Entertainment for comment on Mr Benitez’ latest remarks about reviving the Boracay plan.
Mr Benitez was cited in his Sunday comments saying the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr recognised “the value of bringing over a world-class [casino] operator to the Philippines.”
The businessman added: “Let us look at it from an international tourism perspective, because that is where the resources, the dollars are in that can propel the country into greater heights.”
The regulatory basis for gaming on Boracay has been on-off-on. In July 2018, the administration of Rodrigo Duterte, then leader of the Philippines, indicated that “no construction” of a new casino would be permitted on that island.
In April of that year, the national government had ordered a temporary shutdown of Boracay for what was described as an environmental clean-up.
In late 2019, the Philippine firm said it was abandoning plans for partnering with Galaxy Entertainment on a US$500-million casino investment on Boracay.
But by 2021 the national government’s position on a casino scheme for Boracay seemed to shift in the direction of it being permitted.
In June this year, another Philippine conglomerate, Alliance Global Group Inc, mentioned as part of its long-term strategy, the possibility of casino investment on Boracay.
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