The Aurora Special Economic Zone and Freeport Authority (APECO) in the north eastern Philippines is looking to the gaming industry for investment and has begun to offer both land-based and online casino licenses, according to Asia Gaming Brief.
Under a 2010 act of parliament, the APECO was given permission to grant gaming licenses in order to boost the economy in the remote area. According to APECO officials, to date, two memorandum of understanding (MOU) agreements have been signed for projects located in the special zone on the island of Luzon on the Pacific coast. The authority told the news agency that one of the MOU’s is with a Chinese group and the other an Australian company that is interested in developing an environment-friendly destination that includes a gaming component. APECO said that they are also in the midst of talks with investors from Macau and Hong Kong, with the majority of interest focused on obtaining online licenses.
Pacific Seaboard is conducting probability checks and application screening on behalf of the authority. The company offers technology and consulting services. If and when a license is granted, the nation’s gambling regulator, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), will decide whether to approve it. APECO officials say, $300 million will be the minimum investment required for a land-based resort. Potential investors are being offered incentives, such as a 5 percent tax rate on gross income earned, as well as four to eight-year income tax holiday.
The area, which is surrounded by beaches and backed by rainforest, is approximately 30 minutes by plane from Luzon’s capital city of Manilla. Currently, infrastructure in the area is being worked on by the authority, with plans to upgrade the airport that include improvements to water and sanitation facilities, and extending the runway to 2.4 km in order to accommodate larger aircraft. Presently, the majority of the zone’s employment centers on fishing and agriculture. Approximately 20,000 people call the area home.
In other Philippines’ news, on Tuesday, President-elect Rodrigo Duterte announced that he had selected Andrea Domingo, a member of Duterte’s election campaign team, to head PAGCOR. Domingo replaces outgoing president Benigno Aquino-appointed Cristino Naguiat Jr as the head of the Philippines gambling regulating body.