Palace: New Pagcor mega-project is 'Entertainment City,' not sin city

The new Sodom and Gomorrah it isn't, according to Malacañang.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda on Thursday defended the development of an Entertainment City, proposed by state-owned Philippine Amusement Gaming Corp., (Pagcor), which runs an extremely lucrative network of casinos.

“The idea of the Entertainment City, to be more specific, is that it’s beyond gaming. We’re trying to develop a situation where we can pattern Las Vegas. We can have the entire family brought in and enjoy the amenities of a family vacation,” Lacierda said. “That’s the idea specifically of Chairman Naguiat when it comes to Entertainment City.”

"So there should be no [morality] issue as to the existence of these gaming areas," Lacierda added.

PAGCOR Chairman and CEO Cristino Naguiat, Jr. had said earlier during the 9th ASEAN Finance Ministers’ Investor Seminar in Hong Kong that the Philippine government is aiming for a 10 percent slice of the world’s gaming pie in the next several years.

Though he admitted that compared to Las Vegas, Macau and Singapore, the Philippine gaming industry has a long way to go in terms of revenue potential, the target can be achieved given the right blend “of private sector investment, regulatory maturity and improvements in tourism infrastructure.”

Lacierda meanwhile concurred with Naguiat’s proposal, saying that the development will change the landscape of gaming in the country. “It involves the whole family going on a vacation while the adults are playing in the casinos. The children could go around and be entertained as well with the various theme parks or whatever rides that they are proposing,” Lacierda said.

He added that the family-oriented Entertainment City will not have children running amok in casinos. “We also have a policy that we do not allow children to be engaged or to play in the gaming areas,” Lacierda explained.

“We are in compliance with existing rules on gaming. They are beyond what the law requires.”

The lower expenses involved in Philippine gaming is also another drawing point. “And that’s what made Las Vegas successful, and that is one thing that we have owing to our lower cost, we can be competitive in that regard,” Lacierda added.

Four Integrated Resorts are currently being built by PAGCOR for the 100-hectare Entertainment City project. It is being built with the help of four private proponents.

The Entertainment City will be located at the reclamation area of Manila Bay.

“At full development, Entertainment City is expected to have the capacity to deliver up to $10 billion annually in gaming revenues, as well as generate over 400,000 direct and indirect jobs,” Naguiat had earlier said. — DVM/HS, GMA News

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