An executive order is needed to ban casinos on the central Philippine resort island of Boracay, the Philippine media reports, citing the country’s Justice Secretary.
With the holiday resort island reopening to tourism business on Friday after a six-month closure, the Philippine Department of Justice is said to have recommended the Department of Tourism ask President Rodrigo Duterte to issue a decree that should spell out the future for gaming there.
News reports on Thursday quoted the contents of a letter from Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra to Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat. The letter apparently said Mr Duterte had the authority to curb casino operations on Boracay. Ms Romulo-Puyat had asked for advice from the justice department in the light of Mr Duterte’s repeated calls for a ban on casinos on the island.
The letter reportedly stated it was the opinion of the justice department that an executive order would be the most efficient way of banning casinos on Boracay. The justice department said the gaming regulator, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor) had the authority to do it, but was subject to a direction from the president regarding the matter.
A report on the Philippine Star website stated three projects on Boracay had casino rights, via provisional licences. Among them was Macau casino operator Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd.
It was stated in March that Pagcor had issued the licence and Galaxy Entertainment intended to build a US$500 million casino-resort on the island in partnership with Leisure and Resorts World Corp subsidiary AB Leisure Exponent Inc.
On Wednesday, Leisure and Resorts World told the Philippine Stock Exchange it could not clarify media reports that the two casinos currently on the island had been ordered to shut their doors.
The Philippine authorities reopened Boracay to foreign tourists on Friday, having closed it for six months – on Mr Duterte’s orders – purportedly to clean up sewage and other pollution.
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