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Galaxy Chairman Expresses Strong Confidence in Boracay Casino Plan

Chinese casino tycoon Lui Che Woo is confident that Galaxy Entertainment Group will build a $500-million integrated resort with a gaming floor on the Philippine island of Boracay, despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s apparent disdain for casinos.

Mr. Lui shared details about the Macau-based gaming and hospitality giant’s Boracay venture as well as about its Japan expansion plans in an interview for CNBC that was broadcast earlier today on the news network’s Squawk Box Asia program.

Late last year, Galaxy revealed plans for the development of a $500-million destination resort on Boracay together with its Philippine partner Leisure & Resorts World Corp. Early in 2018, the two companies secured a provisional license from PAGCOR and a 23-hectare land plot on the island. However, the casino portion of the project quickly fell victim to President Duterte’s anti-gambling rhetoric. In addition, Boracay was closed for at the end of April for a six-month environmental cleanup, which was, too, ordered by the Philippines’ top official.

President Duterte has said multiple times over the past several months that he would not allow the construction of a new casino resort on the island once it reopens for business at the end of October. However, developers have maintained that the project will eventually materialize and that they will look to meet all environmental and other requirements the government might place.

Focus on Non-Gaming Options

In his CNBC interview, Mr. Lui said that their Boracay resort will target high-end customers from the Asia-Pacific region. However, there will be a clear focus on non-gambling offering. The casino floor will thus represent a small portion of the whole complex and will only feature several dozens of gaming tables. The businessman went on to say that it will be their goal to “restore the beautiful natural scenery” of Boracay to how it had been before.

Mr. Lui also pointed out that they are very confident in the project’s realization and that they will remain firm on their plans, unless the Philippine government decides otherwise.

The Chinese mogul was also asked about Galaxy’s plans for expansion in Japan. Mr. Lui said that they are watching closely developments in Japan and that they certainly nurture big ambitions for that market. Japan legalized casino gambling not long ago and a number of major gaming and hospitality companies have lodged interest in bidding for one of three gaming licenses that are to be issued.

Mr. Lui pointed out that they will pursue one of these gaming licenses, but non-gambling entertainment will be what they will really focus on if they are allowed to operate in Japan. The businessman said that they are working with the Monte Carlo brand in Macau and have recently acquired a small stake in the Macau branch of Wynn Resorts, and that they will use these partnerships to boost their chances for entering the Japanese market. The company has also been looking for Japanese partners, but the casino mogul said it would not be appropriate to reveal any potential partnerships at this point.

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