Gokongwei eyes P18 biliion casino in Cebu
Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) - March 19, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Taipan John Gokongwei, named by Forbes Magazine as the second richest man in the Philippines with a net worth of $5.8 billion, has committed to pour in P18 billion for his first ever casino venture which will rise in Cebu.

Gokongwei plans to put up the casino resort in Cebu’s South Road Properties, a reclamation area in the southern part of Cebu City, marking the conglomerate’s foray into gaming.

The Gokongwei-owned Universal Hotels and Resorts Inc., has submitted to the local government an unsolicited proposal to develop the Kawit property in the SRP into an integrated resort and casino facility.

Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña said part of the P18 billion investment would go to the hiring of construction workers, security guards and electricians who will build the casino resort.

“John Gokongwei, who is not just a self-made billionaire but also a fellow Cebuano, has agreed to invest P18 billion for an 80,000 square meter world-class, integrated development that includes restaurants, bars, a mall, convention center, casino, park, theatre, and no less than three hotels,” Osmeña said following a recent meeting with Gokongwei and his nephew Frederick Go, president of UHRI.

Osmeña said the investment would create 5,000 new jobs.

“This development will be called Isla dela Victoria, named after Jojo dela Victoria, a Cebuano who died protecting our waters from dynamite fishermen. Isla dela Victoria will put the spotlight on the SRP,” Osmeña also said.

Gokongwei, chairman of JG Summit Holdings Inc., visited the site in December last year.

PAGCOR chairman Andrea Domingo said in February that UHRI has already been given a license for the casino.

“They intend to open in 2022,” Domingo said.

In a statement, UHRI said the proposed development would have a commercial and shopping center, an integrated resort and gaming facility, a theme park and other amenities.  UHRI will lease the property for 50 years.

Aside from Gokongwei, tycoon Manuel Villar Jr. and Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy are also building casino resorts.

Villar wants to put up a casino in Dasmariñas, Cavite on a 1,000 hectare property, Domingo said.

Uy’s second casino, meanwhile, will be inside his new central business hub in Clark, Pampanga, Clark Global City. This is on top of Uy’s first casino project, the Emerald Resort and Casino, which he plans to put up in Cebu.

The Duterte administration has decided to stop issuing licenses for new casinos, noting the proliferation of land-based casinos, but the proposed projects of Gokongwei, Uy and Villar had already been filed with PAGCOR prior to the issuance of the moratorium.

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