Philippines issues partial freeze on the building of new casinos

In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte (pictured) has reportedly taken his antagonism towards gambling a step further by instructing the nation’s regulator to institute a moratorium on the building of any new casinos outside of Manila’s 1,977-acre Entertainment City gaming zone.

According to a report from The Philippine Star newspaper, the order from the controversial 72-year-old was issued last month but only revealed by Andrea Domingo, Chief Executive Officer for the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation regulator, yesterday during an interview at London’s ongoing ICE Totally Gaming exhibition.

“The President told me on January 11 to freeze new casinos because there are just too many now,” Domingo reportedly told the newspaper. “After that, on January 13, we are no longer accepting applications for new casinos.”

Domingo reportedly told The Philippine Star that Duterte, who became the 16th President of the Philippines in June of 2016, believes that the freeze will ‘allow the market to mature’ before revealing that the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation is now only prepared to process applications for non-Entertainment City casinos if they were submitted before the January 13 deadline.

However, the newspaper reported that the moratorium will not impact a plan from billionaire businessman John Gokongwei to construct a giant casino on a 44-acre plot near the southern city of Cebu City. Domingo purportedly explained that the first gaming enterprise from the nation’s second richest man could open as soon as 2022 after he secured a license before the implementation of the moratorium via his Universal Hotels and Resorts Incorporated vehicle.

Domingo reportedly proclaimed that the recent suspension order will moreover not affect the planned casino local real estate magnate Manuel Villar wants to build for his 2,471-acre high-end development in the Manila suburb of Dasmarinas or a similar scheme from the man behind Phoenix Petroleum Philippines Incorporated, Dennis Uy, for a site in the northern Clark Freeport Zone.

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