Duterte lifts casino ban on Boracay

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Duterte lifts casino ban on Boracay Philippine president opposes gambling but government needs revenue to pay for Covid fight published : 28 Aug 2021 at 18:45 An empty beach is seen before the temporary closure of the holiday island Boracay in the Philippines in 2018 in order to help its environment recover from the impact…

Duterte lifts casino ban on Boracay
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Duterte lifts casino ban on Boracay

Philippine president opposes gambling but government needs revenue to pay for Covid fight

published :
28 Aug 2021 at 18:45

An empty beach is seen before the temporary closure of the holiday island Boracay in the Philippines in 2src18 in order to help its environment recover from the impact of tourism. (Reuters File Photo)
An empty beach is seen before the temporary closure of the holiday island Boracay in the Philippines in 2018 in order to help its environment recover from the impact of tourism. (Reuters File Photo)

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has lifted a moratorium on casino operations on the country’s top holiday island to generate taxes for its Covid-19 pandemic response.

Mr Duterte has had a longstanding opposition to gambling and had halted the construction of new casinos in the Philippines, one of Asia’s fastest-growing gambling markets before the pandemic.

“The president has given his go signal allowing the operation of a casino in Boracay,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement on Saturday.

Casino operations in Boracay, the Philippines’ top tourist draw, should follow coronavirus restrictions and keep children away from gambling activities, Mr Roque said. He did not say if the lifting of the moratorium would be temporary or permanent.

Strict and lengthy coronavirus lockdowns last year battered the Philippine economy and hit tax revenues.

No casinos currently operate on the 10-square-kilometre Boracay island, famed for its powdery white sands, turquoise waters and lively nightlife.

The move augurs well for provisional casino licence holders such as the Philippines’ Alliance Global Group Inc, and the partnership of Leisure & Resorts World Corp and Galaxy Entertainment Group of Macau.

In 2018, Mr Duterte rejected Galaxy’s plan to build a $500-million integrated casino resort on Boracay.

That same year, he memorably called Boracay a “cesspool” and ordered the island closed to outsiders for six months in order to rehabilitate the environment after years of intensive tourism.

Alliance Global will proceed with its casino project in Boracay where it has several hotels and a golf course, company chairman Andrew Tan said in a statement on Saturday.

“We are very hopeful that the tourism industry on this island will recover fast after the pandemic,” he said.

Galaxy can start its operations focusing on foreign gamblers, Alfredo Lim, president of the gaming regulator, told Reuters.

Galaxy and Leisure & Resorts World did not immediately respond to requests for comment outside office hours on Saturday.


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