The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor), the casino regulator in that country, said that a subsidiary of casino investor Landing International Development Ltd that has been authorised to develop an integrated resort at Entertainment City, will have to open first the scheme’s proposed theme park before being allowed to begin casino operations.
Hong Kong-listed Landing International said on Wednesday that Pagcor had granted a provisional gaming licence to its wholly-owned unit Landing Resorts Philippines Development Corp. The permit is “to operate a casino at the integrated leisure and entertainment resort within Entertainment City,” in Metro Manila. The provisional licence and the regular licence shall together “be valid until July 11, 2033,” the parent firm stated, adding that, upon expiry, the regular licence could be renewed by Pagcor.
Pagcor confirmed on Thursday that it granted a provisional licence to Landing Philippines, albeit subject to a few conditions. The regulator said in a press release that the theme park planned for the Manila scheme would have to open “before Pagcor may issue the authority to commence its casino operations in favour of Landing”.
The regulator added in its statement: “Landing may not commence casino operations before the end of February 2022 in observance of Pagcor’s agreement with the existing integrated resorts and casinos in Entertainment City, to give them a period of five years to allow the industry to mature starting February 2017.”
On May 1, Andrea Domingo, the head of Pagcor, told local media that Landing International was advised to “secure a clearance” from Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte for its Entertainment City project. In its Thursday release, the regulator stated that “through a memorandum dated May 24, 2018, Pagcor informed the Office of the President” of the provisions included in a draft version of the lease contract with Landing International. The lease provisions were eventually amended on July 4, with an increase of 140 percent in the monthly rental fee to be paid by Landing International, and a decrease in the initial lease period from 50 years to 25 years.
The Philippines casino resort – dubbed NayonLanding – has a price tag of US$1.5 billion, according to Landing International’s Wednesday statement. The company said there would be a ground breaking ceremony on August 7 for the casino project, with the firm expecting to begin operations “in early 2022”.
According to Pagcor’s release, the casino – which will occupy a maximum of 7.5 percent of the overall gross area of the scheme – is a component of Landing’s tourism project with the Nayong Pilipino Foundation, a body created to “promote, encourage and initiate” research and development projects and activities.
The Nayong Pilipino Foundation is the owner of the 9.5 hectares (23.5 acres) of land in Entertainment City that was leased by Landing Philippines to develop the casino resort.
The Philippines is currently developing a 120-hectare area of reclaimed land close to Manila – known as Entertainment City – into a casino cluster, meant to emulate the success of Macau’s Cotai district. There are three large-scale casino properties at Entertainment City, with a fourth one being developed by Travellers International Hotel Group Inc on land that is also owned by the Nayong Pilipino Foundation.
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Chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International