PAGCOR Must Act on Waterfront’s Manila Casino Plan, Court of Appeals Rules

Waterfront’s decade-long effort to build a casino resort in Manila’s Entertainment City gets a boost from the Court of Appeals
The Court of Appeals in the Philippines has ruled that the nation’s gambling regulator, PAGCOR, must issue a license to Waterfront Philippines Inc. for the development of a hotel and casino resort in Entertainment City in Parañaque City, Manila.
In a ruling from earlier this month the Court of Appeals sustained its decision from late last year. Back in late 2018, the court ordered PAGCOR to immediately issue a license to the gaming and hospitality operator. With that late 2018 order, the appellate court affirmed an August 2017 ruling of the Manila Regional Court that urged PAGCOR to act on Waterfront’s license application without delay.
In a two-page legal resolution, the Court of Appeals dismissed PAGCOR’s motion for reconsideration filed after last year’s decision. In the resolution, Associate Justice Samuel Gaerlan said that the arguments in the court’s previous ruling were “amply treated, discussed and passed upon in the subject decision.”
The appellate court said last year that it was “ministerial” for PAGCOR to grant a license to Waterfront, as the company had fulfilled all the necessary license application requirements, including depositing $100 million to cement its interest in developing a resort in the Philippine capital.
Casino Resort Plan Dates A Decade Back
It was back in 2008 when Waterfront first presented its plan to build a hotel and casino resort as part of Entertainment City, a multi-billion government-spearheaded project aimed at boosting the nation’s tourism industry.
The company filed an application for a gaming license from PAGCOR that would enable it to operate a casino at the resort. However, the gambling regulator has failed to act on Waterfront’s petition for more than a decade now.
Waterfront has revealed that the property, dubbed Grand Waterfront Hotel and Casino, would feature a gaming floor and a hotel with 2,500 rooms, among other facilities. In a 2015 petition for mandamus filed by the company, it said that it had fulfilled all the requirements listed in the last letter it had received from PAGCOR back in 2008.
The Court of Appeals ruled last year that since the regulator had not requested any further requirements to be met by the license applicant, “Waterfront is deemed to have completed the requirements for its project application” and this “warranted the review and evaluation thereof.”
The court also pointed in its 2018 ruling that Waterfront’s license application was very similar to that of Resorts World Manila, City of Dreams Manila, Okada Manila, and Solaire Resort and Casino. All four properties are now operational in Entertainment City.
Waterfront already operates several resorts in the Philippines, including Waterfront Airport Hotel and Caisno Mactan and Waterfront Cebu City Hotel. Last year, the company closed its Manila Pavilion Hotel and Casino after a massive fire at the property.
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