Hong Kong-listed integrated resort developer Landing International Development said Wednesday that it has won a provisional permit from Philippine regulators to build a $1.5 billion hotel and casino resort in the Manila Bay area.
Landing currently operates the Jeju Shinhwa World casino and entertainment complex on South Korea’s Jeju Island. In its statement from yesterday, the company said that PAGCOR, the Philippine gambling regulator, has granted it a provisional gaming license to build and operate a casino resort near Manila Bay in the capital of the Southeast Asian nation.
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Landing has previously reclaimed a 9.5-hectare portion of land where it has been planning to build its property. The company is set to break ground on the new resort on August 7. The property is expected to be completed and launched in 2022.
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It will feature luxury hotels, a gaming floor, convention facilities, food and beverage options, retail space, indoor theme and water parks, as well as what Landing said would be the first “indoor movie-based theme park” in Asia.
The company further revealed that the complex will be named NayonLanding. Nayon is the Tagalog word for a small village.
Landing said in its statement that it would look to leverage on the growing popularity of the Jeju Shinhwa World brand to attract both gambling and non-gambling customers from South Korea and the region to its future Philippine operation.
The announcement about the Hong Kong-listed company being granted a provisional license and readying to kick off construction came shortly after another gaming and hospitality operator, Macau’s Galaxy Entertainment Group, announced plans to build a $500-million resort on the Boracay island. Galaxy was, too, granted a provisional license by PAGCOR, but its casino resort plan faced heavy criticism and rage from Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who is known to be a major opponent of gambling expansion in the country.
Bouts of Inconsistency
It should be said that PAGCOR has been somewhat inconsistent in its regulatory approaches toward the country’s land-based casino industry. The regulator said last year that it would temporarily halt the issuance of new gaming licenses for the Manila Bay area so as to prevent the local industry from oversaturation.
The Manila waterfront is home to the Entertainment City mega-complex, which currently hosts three integrated resorts. A fourth one is expected to open doors early next decade. The construction of the four properties was authorized as part of the Philippine government’s plan to boost local tourism by attracting both mass-market and high-spending VIP customers.
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Owners of the three already operational properties have voiced concerns that the addition of more resorts within or near Entertainment City could harm their business and the country’s gaming and tourism industries, as a whole, hence PAGCOR’s previous decision to stop issuing licenses for the area. It is yet to be seen how the regulator’s change of mind would be received by President Duterte.