Pagcor shuts doors on new casino applicants after Duterte orders moratorium
London — Philippine gaming regulators have imposed a moratorium on new casinos operations after President Rodrigo Duterte raised concerns about their “proliferation”, the ongoing lucrative boom in the local industry notwithstanding.
In an interview with reporters, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. chair Andrea Domingo said only firms which submitted their applications before the President’s order to her last month — including a new casino in Clark, Pampanga owned by Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy — would be considered for approval.
“The President told me last January 11 to freeze the entry of new casinos because there are already many of them, and there are more wanting to apply,” the Pagcor chief said during the ICE Totally Gaming 2018 convention in London, the United Kingdom.
“But we’re just processing now the applications we received before the President ordered the moratorium,” she said, explaining that Mr. Duterte was concerned primarily about the “proliferation” of casinos in the country. “After that, as of January 13, we’ve stopped accepting applications.”
At present, there are four Pagcor-approved casino licenses for firms located in the regulator’s Entertainment City complex in Parañaque City, three of which — Solaire Resort and Casino, City of Dreams Manila, and Okada Manila — are already operating. A fourth one by Resorts World Manila has yet to break ground for construction.
Domingo said there are also three new casino licensees in Cebu, namely Uy’s Emerald casino, Millennium casino of the Hong Kong-based Asian Gaming Group, and the recently approved Universal casino of the Gokongwei group.
There is another Pagcor-approved licensee setting up operations on Boracay Island, and eight operations in Clark, Pampanga namely Mimosa, Midori, Donggwang, Widus, Clark Global and two others which are not operating.
“If those two open, there will be eight operators in Clark,” the Pagcor chief said. “I really think Clark can be like Las Vegas with the airport there and the planned high speed train to Manila.”
Domingo said Pagcor’s board is now drafting a memo to detail the moratorium order by Mr. Duterte.
“We’re stopping [license issuances] and we’ll let the market mature first,” she said.
City of Dreams Manila — the smallest gaming complex in Entertainment City and partly owned by Macau gaming magnate Lawrence Ho — previously filed an application to expand its physical footprint in the reclaimed development on the edge of Manila Bay, and Domingo said the Pagcor board is still evaluating the proposal. /muf
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