Court of Appeals gives green light for new casino in Philippines

Boracay may not have casinos when it reopens to publicThe Court of Appeals in the Philippines has sustained a lower court ruling giving a green light for Waterfront Philippines Inc. to be issued a casino licence.

The Court of Appeals decision is likely to add one more casino option to the Manila casino strip, which is a designated casino zone; and ordered the Philippines Amusement and Gambling Corporation (PAGCOR) to give Waterfront a provisional license.

This was an upholding of a lower court ruling that went in favour of Waterfront’s petition.

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Waterfront has for about a decade been trying to secure a licence to develop and operate the Grand Waterfront Hotel and Casino in the Entertainment City gaming zone in Manila. The company met all the requirements of PAGCOR including depositing $100 million in a commercial bank, nonetheless, the application was declined.

In March 2015, the company petitioned local courts seeking relief from the court to compel PAGCOR to deliver on its mandate.
In August 2017, a judgement by the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Manila went in favour of Waterfront, ordering PAGCOR to act on the company’s license application.

The case travelled to the Court of Appeal, which sustained the verdict by the lower court by saying RTC rulings were “supported by factual and legal justifications” and that Waterfront had “completed the requirements for its project application, which warranted the review and evaluation thereof.”

It, therefore, ordered PAGCOR to implement the lower court’s decision immediately, including issuing the company with a provisional casino licence.

It also orders PAGCOR to pay Waterfront P200k (US$3,800) for moral and exemplary damages.

The new judgement is a slap to the face of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, who has ordered PAGCOR reduce the domestic casino industry with measures like the cancellation of all casino licences on the island of Boracay.

It recently also cancelled Landing International Development’s proposed Entertainment City project.

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