Landing International Development Corp has received Pagcor approval for its $1.5bn IR development in Manila’s Entertainment City.
The provisional licence has been granted after the project’s lease agreement was suspended in late June, pending approval by the Philippines regulator and the National Economic Development Authority.
The suspension arose after development partner, and state-owned developer, Nayong Pilipino Foundation was ordered to cease the agreement for the multi-use resort, following accusations of a substantially underpriced contract.
The NPF had agreed the deal without “advertisement to the public to solicit offers from other interested parties to ensure that the proposal is the most advantageous to the government,” according to the Philippines’ Commission on Audit.
The leasehold was predicted to deny the Philippines government an estimated $9.6m annually, in comparison to the monthly leases existing on neighbouring plots.
Though Landing had declared in April that its casino licence was “under negotiation,” Pagcor countered the claim, stating it recognised “no pending formal application.”
The national regulator’s approval of a provisional licence would suggest that Landing and the NPF have now increased the lease agreement for the 9.5m hectare property from the initial $266,950 a month figure.
Though approval from the National Economic Development Authority has not been announced, the increase from $2.81 per sq m per month to $11.24 per sq m should make the authority more receptive.
The groundbreaking ceremony for the integrated resort, Entertainment City’s fifth casino project, is expected to be held in August this year, with the facility itself predicted to start operations in 2022.