After Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced his desire to cut down domestic gambling options, a Court of Appeals judge granted one venue its casino license regardless.
The Waterfront Philippines Inc. applied for a casino license in Manila’s Entertainment City gaming zone nearly 10 years ago. However, their application was denied by PAGCOR despite meeting various application requirements including a $100 million USD deposit. The Waterfront Philippines Inc. already owned 4 major integrated resorts in the country but were denied their application for their Manila-based Grand Waterfront Hotel and Casino.
In March of 2015, the Waterfront Philippines Inc. filed a petition with local courts to compel PAGCOR to grant them their casino license. Two years later, the Regional Trial Court ruled in favor of the Waterfront Philippines Inc. and in 2018, the Philippine Court of Appeals upheld the RTC’s ruling.
According to the Philippine Court of Appeals Sixth Division, PAGCOR must issue the Waterfront Philippines Inc. with a provisional gaming license.
The Waterfront’s petition noted their completion of PAGCOR’s stated requirements for the Manila project. The litigation case concerning Waterfront’s licensing was deemed factual and legally justified. Both courts found PAGCOR to owe the Waterfront Philippines Inc. damages equating P200,000.
This victory for Waterfront Philippines Inc. comes with possibly the best timing since Philippine President Duterte announced new limitations on domestic gambling early November of 2018.
The Philippine President hopes to curb local crime by ridding the nation of physical casinos and has gone out of his way to deny casino licenses in Boracay – a hot-spot for tourism.
With President Duterte’s demand for PAGCOR to remove itself as a casino operator, and recent intervention on a new casino development in Manila’s Entertainment City it would seem like an unfavorable environment for physical casinos in the country.
Currently, the fate of the Philippines’ casino industry is in question, but a forced casino license issued by PAGCOR immediately without delay by the Philippine Court of Appeals may bring a glimmer of hope to operators concerned over the future.
It seems President Duterte’s announcements alone will not stop domestic gambling. Without an Executive Order, Courts may still deem licenses and domestic gambling expansion.