MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang said it is not promoting gambling.
The Palace made the statement after Henry Sy's Belle Corp. announced it is partnering with a Macau casino firm to build a $1 billion resort complex in Parañaque.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the idea of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) is not just casinos at its Entertainment City, a “full service” complex offering leisure and entertainment attractions for the whole family.
He compared this to what is supposedly being done in Las Vegas, which is moving away from casinos to more family-friendly attractions.
Lacierda said there are already existing government regulations on gambling, such as zoning limitations on where a casino can be built and age requirements for casino-goers.
"It’s not promoting gambling per se. We are, however, regulating gambling. For that reason, we have the Pagcor to do the regulation. The idea is to do a full service (complex)… There will be casinos. But the idea is to make it more than a casino, more than focused on casinos, as you have seen in recent developments in Las Vegas,” Lacierda said.
On Thursday evening, Belle Corp. and Melco Crown signed a conditional deal to develop a casino-hotel at Pagcor's Entertainment City.
Melco, owned by Australian billionaire James Packer and Hong Kong businessman Lawrence Ho, will join forces with the Sy, the Philippines' wealthiest man, who controls Belle to jointly develop and manage the hotel set to rise in a more than 100-hectare gaming complex.
Belle is planning to build an integrated entertainment resort complex called Belle Grande Manila Bay, which features a 30,000-square-meter casino.