In the Philippines, the plan that would have seen Galaxy Entertainment Group Limited construct a $500 million integrated casino resort on the small island of Boracay has reportedly been dealt another serious blow and is now facing an unpromising future.

Six-month shut-down:

According to a report from Inside Asian Gaming citing an earlier story from the Business Mirror newspaper, President Rodrigo Duterte shut the 2,550-acre island to all tourists and developers for six months from the end of April so that its sewerage infrastructure could be upgraded. This closure was accompanied by a proclamation from the 73-year-old leader that the area located some 196 miles south of Manila was to be designated as a ‘land reform area’ post-cleanup with local farmers being gifted their own plots.

Fruitless provisional license:

Galaxy Entertainment Group Limited had earlier received provisional authorization for its 1,000-room Boracay project from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation regulator and had hoped to begin welcoming guests as early as 2021. But, this timeline is now in tatters after last week saw local officials ask the body to cancel every one of the island’s gaming licenses including the draft permission that had been granted to the Hong Kong-listed operator.

Request for a casino-free island:

Inside Asian Gaming reported that the request from three members of the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force would also hit the gambling services offered by the island’s Crown Regency Resort and Convention Center, Savoy Hotel Boracay, Paradise Garden Resort Hotel and Convention Center, Movenpick Resort and Spa and Hotel Soffia Boracay. The appeal sent directly to Andrea Domingo, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, purportedly asked the regulator to cancel ‘any and all gaming franchises and/or provisional licenses’ in order to protect ‘one of our nation’s most treasured islands.’

Plan was for a ‘low-density environment’:

Lui Che Woo, Chairman for Galaxy, stated in August that he was ‘very confident’ about being allowed to build an integrated casino resort on Boracay. He declared that the envisioned development would be ‘a low-density environment’ like those seen in the Maldives and not ‘a big casino floor like in Manila or other places that are dense or busy.’

Woo commented…

“When Galaxy Entertainment Group Limited negotiated with the Philippines government, our plans were to turn Boracay into an internationally acclaimed island. We want to lure high-end customers to come and enjoy and to help the Philippines lift its status. It is no longer the top-tier natural scenic place it once was due to pollution and sub-standard facilities.”