In his effort to clamp down on the gambling industry in the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte stopped the construction of an AU$2 billion Landing International casino resort. This happened just moments after the ground-breaking ceremony in the capital Manila.
Breaking Up the Party
Landing International, a Hong Kong gaming and hospitality company, had just broken ground when President Duterte said the land lease deal reached by Manila officials was “unconscionable” and that it must be called off. The president’s spokesperson Harry Roque told reporters of Landing International’s resort development: “Sorry to burst your bubble, people, but the president said that is grossly disadvantageous to the government.”
Landing International Will Continue Unless There’s Legal Grounds
Landing International has responded to the Filipino government that it will continue with development despite Duterte’s mandate. It is sighting the fact that the company had received a licence from the government to build the casino resort. “Unless the lease contract is cancelled or nullified on solid legal grounds by the courts, Landing has reason to believe that it is a valid leaseholder and can legally proceed,” Landing International said in a statement.
The Manila casino resort is planned to have 155 table games and 239 slot machines. There will also be a hotel, convention centre, and water park. Landing International planned to open it in 2022.
Contentious Relationship with Gambling
President Duterte is known for his antagonistic relationship with casino and resort operators in his country. He thinks gambling has a “deleterious effect” on society and that it should be reduced to the “barest minimum”. When he took office 2016, he coordinated a brutal clampdown on underground gambling. He also changed the country’s casino and gaming regulator’s directive. He directed the Philippines Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) to transition into a regulator only body by selling off its land-based casinos.
Landing International isn’t the first major casino resort development to be interfered with by Duterte. In May this year he halted Hong Kong casino group Galaxy Entertainment’s casino and resort development on Boracay Island. “They want to build casinos. I did not allow it,” he said of Galaxy’s development. This is despite the fact that the company had received a permit from PAGCOR.
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