Philippine gaming company Leisure & Resorts World Corporation (LRWC) denied reports that plans for the construction of a $500-million integrated resort on the Boracay island have been dropped.
The company has partnered Macau-based casino giant Galaxy Entertainment Group to build a mixed-use complex in the popular tourism hub that annually welcomes more than 2 million tourists. The two gaming firms obtained in March a provisional license from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, PAGCOR, to operate casino gaming as part of the multi-million complex.
LRWC said that it has been in continued talks with its Macau partner and that no final decision has been made regarding their Boracay development project. In a statement from earlier today, the gaming company stressed that they have not abandoned their plan, contrary to claims.
Representatives for the Philippine Department of Tourism said Tuesday that Galaxy has informed the department that it has nixed the expensive project and has been looking for an alternative site to develop a resort of a similar scale. Last month, the Macau casino operator and its Philippine partner acquired a 23-hectare site on Boracay to build their resort on.
LRWC said that any changes of plan should be conferred with PAGCOR as it was the regulator to issue the provisional casino license.
Tourism Assistant Secretary Ricky Alegre was the official to make the Tuesday announcement that Galaxy was abandoning the Boracay development. He pointed out that if this was indeed the case and that the Macau operator and its local partner were looking for another location, they would have to go through the whole accreditation process all over again and would have to obtain a new license from PAGCOR.
It was in late December when news about Galaxy’s interest in expanding into the Philippines first emerged. The company and its Philippine partner were seeking regulatory approval from PAGCOR back then for a $300-million to $500-million integrated resort on Boracay.
The plan has sparked concern amid an environmental review of Boracay. A specially assembled unit conducted the review under orders from Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Its discoveries were made public in February.
Members of the unit found out that a number of businesses on the island were discharging untreated sewage in the sea and that multiple structures had been built without the necessary permissions. Following the review, President Duterte ordered the island be shuttered for a period of six months starting April 26.
While environmental groups applauded the decision, businesses complained about the impact of the island’s closure on their operations.
Galaxy and LRWC’s casino plan, too, received mixed reactions. The project was lauded for its potential to bring additional tourists to the island. However, groups of residents argued that Boracay did not need gambling to promote itself as a popular tourism destination and that its white-sand beaches, booming nightlife, and various attractions were more than enough to draw millions of international tourists annually.
Terry Davis holds a degree in Psychology, but it was after his graduation that he found his real passion – writing. Previously, he worked for a local news magazine.