Gov’t lifts 3-year moratorium on new casinos

The country’s gaming regulator will lift a moratorium on the establishment of new casinos three years after it was put in place by President Duterte, after the Chief Executive said the government needed new sources of revenues for its efforts to combat the pandemic.

In a mobile phone message, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. chair and CEO Andrea Domingo said the agency was ready to execute the President’s directive along with a new set of safeguards that would ensure that minors would be kept away from gambling activities.

Boracay project

“It was the President who imposed the moratorium in 2018,” she said. “Now that he has lifted it, we will implement the new policy.”

The lifting of the moratorium removes the impediment to the proposed integrated casino and resort that was going to rise on Boracay Island, which was announced in 2017, but was ordered to stop construction a few months later amid strong opposition from the public.

Despite this moratorium’s lifting, Domingo said no new casinos would be allowed in Pagcor Entertainment City in Parañaque since there was no more space for new locators. There are at present four locators in the area—Solaire Resort and Casino, City of Dreams, Okada Manila and another being built by a joint venture of Malaysia’s Genting Group and Megaworld Corp.

Safeguards readied

She clarified, however, that no ban on integrated casino resorts was ever put in place for other locations like Clark, Pampanga.

She reiterated that the regulator would put in place strong safeguards to ensure that minors were kept away from casinos.

Pagcor expects its revenue to reach P38 billion this year, up from last year’s P30 billion. This is, however, substantially lower than its prepandemic levels, which was about P80 billion a year.

Other Pagcor casino licensees are located or set to locate in Cebu, namely businessman Dennis Uy’s Emerald casino, Millennium casino of the Hong Kong-based Asian Gaming Group and Universal casino of the Gokongwei group.

Pagcor licensees also have operations in Clark, Pampanga, namely Mimosa, Midori, Donggwang, Widus, Clark Global, in addition to two others, which are not operating.

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