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Business

Philippines approves giant casino in Cebu

$300 million project will be first integrated resort outside Manila

MANILA -- The Philippine casino regulator has approved the construction of the first integrated resort outside the capital.

Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), which also runs its own casinos, granted Udenna Corp. a "provisional license" to build a $300 million integrated resort and casino on Mactan Island in the central Philippine province of Cebu.

The project, dubbed Lapu-Lapu Leisure Mactan, will sit on 12 hectares of beachfront property near the airport.

Udenna plans to start construction in three months, and it aims to open the casino, retail complex and hotels by 2019. The entire project will be completed in 2022.

The property will have a skydiving center on a pier; a convention center; luxury hotels and villas; specialty dining options; private residences; and condominium hotels.

Udenna is controlled by Mindanao-based businessman Dennis Uy, one of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's top campaign donors during the election.

Pagcor Chair Andrea Domingo said in March that the regulator has imposed a moratorium on new integrated resorts in Metro Manila to shield pioneering integrated resort operators from greater competition. The existing investors, which together with their partners have invested at least $1 billion each, are Macau's Melco Crown, Malaysia's Genting Group, Japan's Universal Entertainment, and Bloomberry Resorts owned by Filipino businessman Enrique Razon.

Domingo said the Philippine gaming industry is expected to continue growing on the back of increased tourist arrivals from China after Duterte set aside a territorial dispute and mended ties with Beijing.

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