PH Resorts Rethinks CFZ Casino Plans as Philippines Continue to Fight COVID-19

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The Clark Freeport Zone (CFZ) in the Philippine province of Pampanga is meant to be a massive hub of commercial activity, an attempt to bring additional income to the area. Casinos are a significant part of it, but one company has decided to take a step back and rethink its CFZ strategy. PH Resorts Group, through its Clark Grand Leisure Corp. subsidiary, has received approval for its request to temporarily suspend its gaming license in the CFZ.

PH Resorts Group Shifts its Focus

PH Resorts had sent a request to the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (PAGCOR), asking that it be allowed to temporarily suspend the provisional gaming license tied to its property in Clark Global City in the CFZ. According to the company, the suspension was “due to some lingering uncertainties surrounding the casino gaming industry especially with more competition in the Clark, Pampanga location.”

The approval will allow PH Resorts to focus its attention elsewhere in the country, specifically, its Emerald Bay Resort and Casino in Mactan, Cebu. The flagship property has been in development for some time and the first phase is expected to be ready sometime during the third quarter of next year. The company is investing $300 million in the property, which, when the first phase opens, will include 122 gaming tables, 600 electronic gaming machines and 270 hotel rooms.

COVID-19 Continues to Threaten the Philippines

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit countries around the world hard. Some that seemed to be innocuous to the virus at first, such as New Zealand, are now seeing rampant outbreaks. The Philippines has had constant troubles since the coronavirus first appeared almost two years ago and, like many countries, still can’t get it completely under control. The economic activity in the country has suffered greatly as a result and COVID-19 has caused serious damage to the Philippines’ casino industry.

In the Metro Manila area, which has consistently had more issues than other parts of the country, public health restrictions continue to linger. Manila is under Alert Level 4, the second-strictest level of the country’s five alert levels. This has been the case since the alert system was introduced and, although Manila was expected to see its level relaxed at the beginning of this month, it has been renewed until at least October 15.

In Alert Level 4, casinos, horse tracks, bars, amusement parks, Internet cafes and more are not allowed to open. However, there is some potentially good news. The Philippines is on its way to having most of the population vaccinated against COVID-19, with 92% of the citizens expected to have received their shots by December 2. Currently, active cases have plunged from 40,000 to 25,000, with the total number of cases dropping below 20,000 every day since late last week. In Manila, the number of daily cases has dropped from 4,320 during the week of September 20 to 26, to 3,121 during the week of September 27 to October 3. If that rate continues, Manila will definitely be on track to remove the alert level in a couple of weeks.

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