Rodrigo Duerte, the President of the Philippines, has joined other high ranking public officials in the Philippine Government in voicing his disapproval of a planned $500m integrated resort casino development on the island of Boracay.
Macau-based Galaxy Entertainment Group and its partner Resorts World Group will be watching developments in the Philippines closely as public opinion in the country is quickly turning negative towards their integrated resorts development.
President Duerte voiced his opinion on the matter during a press conference, claiming: “There are no plans for a casino. Let's stop it because it's too much. There's a casino here, casino there. Consider Boracay a land reform area. I will give it to the farmers, to the Filipinos first”.
The Borocay casino project was already under threat due to ecological damage to the islands environment, which is said to be like a ‘cesspool’, according to Duerte. As a result of the ecological issues, the island will be closed off for six months starting on 26 April 2018 for cleaning and the construction of a new sewage system.
Duerte now joins other prominent Filipino politicians such as Harry Roque, the presidential spokesperson and Roy Cimatau, Environment Secretary, who had already voiced their disapproval for the multi-million dollar development.
Aklan Municipality, which contains Boracay, currently has four casinos, all of which are foreigner-only establishments . The decision to approve this latest casino construction project was allegedly taken by the municipal council without prior public approval. Despite the controversy the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation’s (PAGCOR) decision to grant a provisional license for the integrated resort in March.
Galaxy Entertainment Group claims that the resort would take in $100m in gross gambling revenue annually following its construction. As well as the tax revenue generated for the country the development was also said to create jobs through the sites construction, operation and increased tourism appeal to the island.