Philippine President has a new target in his ongoing war against the proliferation of gambling in the country as a spokesperson for the official announced earlier today that he would cancel a recently approved project for the construction of a $1.5-billion casino resort in the capital Manila.
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Hong Kong-based integrated resort developer and operator Landing International Development Ltd. broke ground on the $1.5-billion grand scheme just hours before news about President Duterte’s clampdown broke.
Landing, which currently operates the Jeju Shinhwa World resort on South Korea’s Jeju Island, received last month a provisional permit by PAGCOR, the Philippine gambling regulator, to build an integrated resort in the Manila Bay area. As mentioned above, the company broke ground on the property earlier today.
Under the terms of its license, Landing would have opened the resort, named NayonLanding, in 2022. The property would have been the fifth integrated resort in Manila’s Entertainment City, a strip of land in the city’s bay aimed to be turned into a tinier version of the legendary Las Vegas Strip. There are three operational resorts in Entertainment City at present, and a fourth one is planned to open doors in the early 2020s.
NayonLanding would have been able to commence operations in February 2022 or precisely five years after the implementation of a February 2017 provision under which Entertainment City’s casino market was given a five-year period to mature, during which no other casino resorts would be launched.
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During today’s groundbreaking ceremony Landing officials said that they expect their $1.5-billion resort to attract between two and three million international visitors. The plan for the integrated resort involves the construction of hotels with a total of 1,500 rooms and suites, a casino with 155 gaming tables and 239 slot machines, water parks, a convention center, and a number of food and beverage facilities, among others.
President Duterte Says “No”
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said today that President Duterte would block the project as the lease contract Landing inked with a state-run foundation earlier this year has put the Philippine government at a serious disadvantage due to the fact that the rental payment agreed upon was “unconscionable”.
This is the second casino resort project President Duterte has promised to block since the beginning of the year. Earlier this year, the country’s top official declared war on a $550-million scheme for the construction of an integrated resort with a gaming floor on the island of Boracay.
Macau casino and resort operator Galaxy Entertianment Group and its Philippine partner Leisure and Resorts World Corp. were the companies behind the Boracay project. They were issued a provisional license by PAGCOR in March and acquired a portion of land where the resort was planned to be built.
Boracay was shuttered for business at the end of April to undergo a six-month environmental rehabilitation. Leisure officials said last month that their integrated resort was on track for 2021 opening despite the island’s closure. However, the future of the plan remains quite unclear as President Duterte has repeatedly pointed out that he would no allow the construction of a casino resort on the island.