LRWC seeks to re-partner with Galaxy for Boracay casino

LRWC dropped its plan to build a casino in Boracay last December.
LRWC dropped its plan to build a casino in Boracay last December.

With a casino on Boracay looking possible again, LRWC wants to resume its partnership with Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd.

The Philippines.- With Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte changing his mind about a ban on gambling on Boracay, Leisure & Resorts World Corp (LRWC) plans to resume talks with Galaxy Entertainment about a possible casino development on the island.

Alfredo Abelardo Benitez, LRWC director, confirmed to GMA News Online that he plans to revive talks with the Macau casino operator.

An original project was announced in December 2017, after LRWC bought the parcels of land in Boracay for US$500m. However, Duterte then closed the island destination to tourism due to concerns for the environment. He said that the increased number of visitors on the island was turning Boracay into a “cesspool.”

LRWC dropped its plan for a casino on its 23-hectare property in Boracay leaving Galaxy Entertainment as a sole investor. However, a few weeks ago Duterte said his country needs income to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

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

Brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd is cautious about the possibility of Galaxy Entertainment being interested in Boracay now as it faces the expiry of its current Macau gaming rights in June 2022.

Analysts said: “In light of China’s ongoing crackdown targeting overseas gambling, we do not expect Galaxy Entertainment to pursue any casino developments outside of Macau for the foreseeable future.”

Boracay residents against gambling on the island

Residents on Boracay have come out against the possibility of a casino on the island.

They 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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