In the Philippines, the plan from Galaxy Entertainment Group Limited to build a $500 million integrated casino resort on the small island of Boracay could reportedly be in jeopardy after allegations emerged that local government officials may have illegally endorsed the project last year.

According to a report from the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper, the council for the mainland community of Malay, which handles the administration of 2,550-acre Boracay, sanctioned the venue in 2017 without first holding a public consultation and then controversially imposed a moratorium on the building of any new casinos. The development from Galaxy Entertainment Group Limited was subsequently granted a provisional license by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation regulator and now hopes to begin welcoming guests by 2021.

The newspaper cited Abram Sualog, Vice-Mayor for Malay, as reportedly explaining that municipal leaders had endorsed the giant casino project after receiving a letter from Galaxy Entertainment Group Limited transmitted via Mayor Ciceron Cawaling.

Sualog reportedly also detailed that no public consultation had been held due to the fact that Boracay already offers four casinos catering to foreign tourists. He went on to declare that the moratorium had been designed only to prevent new local-facing gambling establishments from opening. As part of the approval process, he purportedly stated that Galaxy Entertainment Group Limited agreed that its coming 56.8-acre development would cater only to non-Filipino players.

However, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that these explanations have drawn criticism after a photograph emerged on Facebook allegedly showing Cawaling and Aklan Governor Florencio Miraflores in Macau at the invitation of Galaxy Entertainment Group Limited. The pair was purportedly joined on their two-day trip by former Malay councilor Jonathan Cabrera although it is unclear who shouldered the associated travel and accommodation costs.

Hong Kong-listed Galaxy Entertainment Group Limited runs the Galaxy Macau, StarWorld Macau and Broadway Casino properties in Macau. Last week saw it purchase approximately 5% of American rival Wynn Resorts Limited, which is responsible for the former Portuguese enclave’s Wynn Macau and Wynn Palace Cotai venues.