Boracay residents and businesses reject gambling on the island

Rodrigo Duterte has rekindled the possibility of gambling on Boracay.
Rodrigo Duterte has rekindled the possibility of gambling on Boracay.

Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte’s suggestion of allowing gambling in Boracay has been heavily criticised by residents and business owners.

The Philippines.- The possibility of allowing gambling in Boracay has caused criticisms from local residents and business owners who say such a project has long been opposed on the island.

Last week, the Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte, rekindled the possibility of allowing gambling in Boracay, noting that his country needs income to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Duterte said: “We don’t have money now. Where we can get money, I will get it. If it will be from gambling, so be it.”

According to The Inquirer, residents on Boracay believe the president should allow the development of casinos in other places but not in Boracay. They want authorities to focus on increasing the vaccination rate on the island to allow the return of foreign visitors.

In 2018, Galaxy Entertainment received a licence to build a $500m IR on the island. It partnered with Leisure & Resorts World Corp. (LRWC) and bought parcels of land to start building the IR, which the company described as a low-rise, eco-friendly project.

However, Duterte closed the island destination to tourism out of concerns for the environment, saying that an increased number of visitors was turning Boracay into a “cesspool.” LRWC dropped its plans soon afterwards, leaving Galaxy Entertainment without a partner.

Residents had already feared that the creation of the Boracay Island Development Authority as a government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC) could lead casinos on the Philippine island.

Natividad Bernardino, chairman of the Boracay Inter-Agency Rehabilitation Management Group, said: “The problem of Boracay is one of over-tourism and overdevelopment. What we need in terms of sustaining the rehabilitation and ecological sustainability of the island is a regulatory body instead of a GOCC.”

She said the island has already exceeded its carrying capacity for the environment and population, and that there is no more space for further investment and development.

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Galaxy Entertainment land-based casino