Boracay is unlikely to allow the operation of a planned casino resort in the island anytime soon following confirmation from Philippine authorities that the project is officially on hold. Chinese firm Galaxy Entertainment Group has been advised of the decision issued by the country’s gaming regulatory agency.
In a report, Reuters said the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (PAGCOR) has made clear that Galaxy Entertainment will need to convince President Rodrigo Duterte the planned casino resort, which will cost $500 million to build, will bring more benefits than harm to the popular holiday destination.
“They (Galaxy) have to probably explain to the president the advantages and that they will comply with the environmental laws,” the report quoted PAGCOR as saying.
Earlier, Mr Duterte said Boracay has become a “cesspool” due to environmental degradation and has ordered the total closure of the island, translating to a ban on tourism activities that started on April 26. The President said it will take at least six months to rehabilitate Boracay, meaning no foreign and local visitors will be admitted to the island during the entire period.
Supportive Of Boracay Shutdown
For its part, Galaxy Entertainment said the island’s shutdown is fully understandable given the apparent environmental issues plaguing Boracay. However, the resulting deferment of its project will need to be cleared up, the Macau-based company said.
“We continue to work with our local partner to seek further clarification,” Galaxy Entertainment said in a statement, per the report published by the South China Morning Post.
At the same time, the company expressed its full support of the decision made by the government of the Philippines.
“We support the Philippine Government’s decision to temporarily close Boracay and their restoration initiative for the island,” the casino operator said.
No Scrapping Yet Of Casino Plan
Meanwhile, Leisure & Resorts World Corporation (LRWC), Galaxy Entertainment’s business partner on the project, has already indicated that a casino in Boracay remains a possibility. LRWC said there is no final word yet on the fate of the million-dollar development stalled by the island’s lockdown.
“Contrary to claims that Galaxy has ‘abandoned’ its planned Boracay project, no such announcement has been made nor communicated with PAGCOR,” the company told CNN Philippines.
The statement from LRWC was made in reaction to recent reports that, following a backlash, the Philippine government has backtracked on its earlier approval of the project. More so, local media reports have indicated that “no new casino (will rise) in Boracay.”
“Both parties have not reached any final decision regarding its planned Boracay resort project,” LRWC said on its statement.