The COVID-19 has caused economic hardships on every level and it doesn’t look like things are ready to get back to normal yet. The Delta variant is continuing to cause issues, but the pandemic has also helped open the doors to new gambling opportunities that perhaps would have never been explored before. The Philippines, previously viewing casinos as pure evil, now sees them as a necessary evil. Boracay, a popular island retreat in the country, will soon be home to a new resort after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte reversed a moratorium in place for two and a half years.
Boracay to Get a Gambling Boost
President Duterte has not been shy about acknowledging his distaste for casinos in the past and, in January 2018, took action. He introduced a moratorium on new casino construction just as a project was breaking ground in Boracay. However, COVID-19 has put gambling in a new light in a number of countries and, this past July, Duterte decided to lighten up. He began to embrace some forms of gambling and launched initiatives to ensure tighter control over tax obligations. Now, Boracay is going to start down a path to return to its former glory days with new gambling facilities to be allowed.
The Philippines just lifted the block on new casino construction and it didn’t take long for a development to be announced for the island. It isn’t clear who will be involved, but, two years ago, Leisure and Resorts World (RWL) was still working with Galaxy Entertainment Group on a new resort for the area. That initiative was later scrapped because of the controversy surrounding casino projects and the environmental impact they were having on Boracay. However, that project could come back to life now, as long as LRW, and any other casino operator interested, follows strict rules and guidelines.
Boracay the Next Mini-Macau?
The goal of the moratorium reversal could be to see Boracay become a gambling hotbed, but only as long as other tourism activity is introduced, as well. There are steps being taken to introduce the Boracay Island Development Authority (BIDA), which would officially oversee the development of gambling and amusement activity in the area. A bill approving the formation of the agency has already been approved and work is now underway to bring the BIDA to life.
Just because Duterte has relaxed his stance on casinos and gambling, this doesn’t mean that operators should believe they have a great deal of freedom with little control. The Philippine president has already made it abundantly clear that he calls the shots and expects businesses to follow the rules. Duterte and his office will likely keep a close eye on new gaming properties that are brought online, and the president’s spokesperson, Harry Roque, said in a statement, “Casino operations in Boracay shall follow restrictions such as the observance of safety and health protocols imposed in view of the current [COVID-19] pandemic and ensuring safeguards to keep children or minors away from gambling activities.”