No new casinos during presidency: Duterte

Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday announced there would be no new casinos set up during his presidency, raising further doubt over major investments planned in the country.

The president made the comments during a public speech on Wednesday, a day after he sacked the entire board of Hong Kong-listed Landing International’s local partner, Nayong Pilipino (NPF), which was planning a family-centric integrated resort in Paranaque City.

“I hate gambling. I do not want it,” said Duterte on Wednesday, without elaborating. “There will be no casinos outside of what are existing. I am not granting anything.”

Regarding NPF, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the president has ordered Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra to review the lease deal for the proposed NayonLanding resort.

Following the firings on Tuesday, Landing issued a statement saying the changes at its partner won’t affect its project as it considers itself a valid leaseholder.

However, on Friday, the Philippine Gaming and Amusement Corp. also weighed in, stressing its support for the president and his policies.

The regulator reiterated that the provisional license given to Landing was contingent on the parties meeting all legal requirements, including holding a valid lease contract.

“Being an agency under the Office of the President, PAGCOR reaffirms its commitment and readiness to support the policies and pronouncements of the President pertaining to the country’s gaming industry,” it said in a press release.

“As regulator, PAGCOR is duty-bound to ensure that all gaming-related regulations are adhered to, balancing the responsibility of increasing badly-needed revenues for the government and safeguarding the best interest of the Filipino people.”