DigiPlus hopes to jumpstart casino project in Boracay

Danessa Rivera - The Philippine Star
DigiPlus hopes to jumpstart casino project in Boracay
Slot machines are shown in a casino in Manila.

MANILA, Philippines — Listed retail gaming provider DigiPlus Interactive Corp. is hopeful it can jumpstart its $500-million casino project in Boracay Island with Macau-based Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd. with a government more receptive toward casino development.

The local company is determining the “comfort level” of its foreign partner to push for the construction of the planned integrated casino development in the island destination, Bacolod City Mayor Alfredo “Albee” Benitez said in a briefing with reporters over the weekend.

“That is exactly what we are asking: what will it take for you to come back in again? It is just a matter of getting your comfort level high enough to come back,” he said.

Benitez is the founder of DigiPlus Interactive Corp. (formerly Leisure and Resorts World Corp.), but stepped down from the board of directors in 2021 to run for public office.

The Marcos administration is more receptive to casino developments, particularly in bringing in a world class operator to lure in more tourists.

“I think they understand the value of bringing an overall class operator to the Philippines. It’s a different level when we talk of world class operators. When you look at tourism, they are bringing tourism from outside. Let us not look at it from a local tourism perspective, let us look at in from international tourism perspective because that is where resources, the dollars are in that can propel the country to greater heights,” he said.

Located on a 24-hectare property in Boracay Island, Benitez said the minimum investment  should at least be $500 million – as required by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) – for the integrated casino resort development.

However, he said the challenge is to bring back Galaxy Casino as DigiPlus partner for the project.

In 2017, Galaxy Casino – a subsidiary of Galaxy Entertainment Group – tapped Benitez’s firm as the local partner for its integrated casino resort in the Philippines.

In March 2018, DigiPlus secured a provisional gaming license from PAGCOR to operate a $550-million casino resort in Boracay with Galaxy Casino, but progress for the project has been stalled as the Duterte administration closed the island destination for rehabilitation a year later.

Benitez said initial development – such as land preparation – had already been completed in the location.

“In fact, all the plans and designs are already finished, so we’re not back to square one,” he said.

The Galaxy group is one of the world’s leading resorts, hospitality and gaming companies. It primarily develops and operates a large portfolio of integrated resort, retail, dining, hotel and gaming facilities in Macau. It is listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and is a constituent stock of the Hang Seng Index.

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