Philippines’ Duterte to call off Landing’s $1.5 billion casino project

FILE PHOTO: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his State of the Nation address at the House of Representatives in Quezon city, Metro Manila, Philippines July 23, 2018. /Czar Dancel

MANILA (Reuters) – Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte will cancel Landing International Development Ltd’s $1.5 billion integrated casino project in the capital, his spokesman said minutes after the Hong Kong-listed firm broke ground on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his State of the Nation address at the House of Representatives in Quezon city, Metro Manila, Philippines July 23, 2018. /Czar Dancel

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the lease contract that Landing signed with a state-owned foundation in March has significantly put the government at a disadvantage because the rental payment was “unconscionable”.

“Sorry to burst your bubble, people, but the president said that is grossly disadvantageous to the government,” Roque told a media briefing, few minutes after Landing broke ground for what could have been the fifth casino project in the country’s smaller version of the Las Vegas strip.

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp, a government-owned and controlled firm under the Office of the President, granted Landing the license to build the project in July. The project, which will include hotels, a convention center, water parks and gambling areas composed of 155 tables and 239 slot machines and electronic table games, was slated to start commercial operations in 2022. Landing officials were not immediately available for comment. Shares of the firm were up 4 percent as of 0707 GMT, outstripping the broader index that was up 1.6 percent. In April, the government also shelved a plan by Macau’s Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd to build a $500 million integrated casino-resort on the holiday island of Boracay, just a month after the gaming regulator approved the project.

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