Duterte may lift casino ban: spokesman

President Rodrigo Duterte
President Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman has suggested the leader of the Philippines may be open to lifting a ban on new casino licenses.

The ban was imposed in early 2018 on concern about the proliferation of new project applications and shortly after a controversy over plans by Galaxy Entertainment and a local group to build a resort on Boracay. That project has been mothballed, though Galaxy Chairman Lui Che Woo has said he is confident he will eventually get his resort. 

During his fourth State of the Nation Address on Monday, Duterte praised Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. Chair Andrea Domingo for collecting P16-billion ($313 million) revenue as of July 2019. He also urged Domingo to encourage more gaming, the Inquirer reports.

Asked if Duterte is now open to lifting the moratorium, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said: “That would be the logical consequence of what he said,” the newspaper reports.

Pagcor is one of the biggest revenue earners for the Philippine government, remitting the fees and taxes it earns from its own casinos and those it licenses, both online and land based, to nation building projects. 

Domingo has spoken out in favor of further casino investment to generate more revenue from the state.

She doesn’t want further development in Manila’s Entertainment City, but believes there is room for further casino hubs to help generate tourism in certain areas of the country. These include the Clark Freeport Zone, a former U.S. naval base north of Manila and the central island of Cebu. 

Several casino projects in both of these locations are already moving ahead. 

A sixth casino opened earlier this month in Clark. The 309-hector D’Heights Resort and Casino will have a five-star, 310 room Hilton Hotel and the Hyatt Regency, according to reports.

While PH Resorts Group is looking to raise around $600 million in funds to support the construction of its $600 million integrated resort in Mactan, Cebu, to be known as The Emerald.