Boracay Casino Plan Advances as President Duterte Wages War on the Island

Macau gambling operator Galaxy Entertainment Group is moving forward with plans to build $500-million casino resort on the Philippine island of Boracay, despite recent threats by President Rodrigo Duterte that he would close the popular tourist hub over over-development concerns, local media outlet the Philippines Lifestyle reported.

Plans for the new casino project on the small island, known to be particularly popular with international tourists due to its white sand beaches and nighttime entertainment options, were first revealed by Galaxy in December 2017.

Galaxy and the Philippine gambling regulator, PAGCOR, confirmed earlier today that they would look to move forward with the plan. The major Macau casino operator has partnered local developer Leisure and Resorts World and is seeking approval to build a $300-$500-million resort with a casino and different other attractions.

Alfredo Lim, President of PAGCOR, told Reuters today that they believe the project would improve the Philippines’ tourism product event further. The casino resort would be intended for high roller players from the Asia-Pacific region. Targeting wealthy casino patrons, Galaxy and its local partner hope to also draw the attention of junket operators that would organize the trips to their resort.

It can be said that the Macau casino operator might be particularly keen to capitalize on the warming relations between China and the Philippines and the rise of China’s middle class as a major consumer power.

Earlier this year, developer DoubleDragon Properties unveiled another major project for the construction of a 1,001-room hotel on Boracay. The plan includes development over two hectares of land and would also involve the construction of different attractions and meeting and convention facilities.

Despite its popularity with foreign visitors, Boracay has recently come under serious fire by President Duterte, local governments, and environmental groups. The country’s top official has recently fired at the island and its development activity in a response to growing concerns about its overdevelopment. The President has even called the island a “cesspit” due to its lack of a proper sewerage system.

Marines and Dynamite

In a Thursday statement made on behalf of President Duterte, his spokesman Harry Roque said that the country’s highest ranking official is ready to blow up all illegal development projects on Boracay, if need be.

Mr. Roque further noted that Boracay’s local government has sought assistance from Mr. Duterte. The President has ensured officials that he would not hesitate to send the Marines to assist in solving the issue, shut properties that operate without the necessary permits, or even use dynamite to blow up illegal structures.

Last week, the local government ordered the closure of Boracay West Cove, as the resort was found to have operated without any business and other necessary permits and to have built structures on a no-build zone on the island.

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