MANILA, Philippines—The country’s gaming regulator will lift a moratorium on the establishment of new casinos three years after it was put in place by President Rodrigo Duterte after he said that the government needed new sources of revenue for its pandemic response.
In a mobile phone message, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. chair and CEO Andrea Domingo said the agency is ready to execute the president’s directive along with a new set of safeguards to ensure that minors are kept away from gambling activities.
“It was the President who imposed the moratorium in 2018,” she said. “Now that he has lifted it, we will implement new policy.”
The Pagcor chief said the lifting of the moratorium pertains to the proposed integrated casino and resort announced in 2017 that was going to rise on Boracay Island, but was ordered to stop construction activities a few months later amid strong opposition from the public.
That casino was going to be built and operated by publicly listed Leisure and Resorts World Corp. and its foreign partner, Galaxy Entertainment, one of the largest casino operators in Macau, China.
Despite this moratorium lifting, Domingo said no new casinos will rise in Pagcor Entertainment City in Parañaque since there was no more space for new locators in the addition to the four already there—Solaire Resort and Casino, City of Dreams, Okada Manila and another being built by a joint venture of Malaysia’s Genting Group and Megaworld Corp.
She clarified, however, that no ban on integrated casino resorts was ever put in place for other locations like Clark, Pampanga.
“From what I heard, this [new casino] is in Boracay,” the Pagcor chief said.
She reiterated that the regulator will put in place strong safeguards to ensure that minors are kept away from casinos.
Pagcor expects revenues to reach P38 billion this year, which represents an improvement over last year’s P30 billion. This is, however, substantially lower than its pre-pandemic levels in the vicinity of P80 billion a year.
Other Pagcor casino licensees are located or set to locate in Cebu, namely businessman Dennis Uy’s Emerald casino, Millennium casino of the Hong Kong-based Asian Gaming Group and Universal casino of the Gokongwei group.
Pagcor licensees also have operations in eight sites in Clark, Pampanga, namely Mimosa, Midori, Donggwang, Widus, Clark Global, in addition to two others which are not operating.
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