Philippine special economic zone seeks to woo casino investors

 

A remote area in the north eastern Philippines is seeking investment from the gaming industry and has begun offering both online and land-based casino licenses.

The 12,923-hectare Aurora Special Economic Zone and Freeport Authority (APECO) was given permission under a 2010 act of parliament to grant gaming licenses to boost economic growth in the area.

Officials from APECO say they have so far signed two memorandum of understandings for projects in the zone on the Pacific coast of the island of Luzon. One is with an Australian company interested in developing an eco-tourism destination with a gaming component and the other is with a Chinese group, they told AGB without giving further details. They added they are also in talks with investors from Hong Kong and Macau.

Most interest has been focused in obtaining online licenses, they said. 

Pacific Seaboard, which offers consulting and technology services, is screening applications and conducting probity checks on the part of the authority. 

The zone, which boasts pristine beaches backed by rainforest, is offering incentives to investors, such as four to eight-year income tax holiday and a tax rate of 5 percent on gross income earned.

The authority is working on improving infrastructure in the area, which is about half an hour from the capital Manila by plane, but a drive of more than six hours. It plans to upgrade the airport, extending the runway to 2.4 km to accommodate larger aircraft and improve water and sanitation facilities.

At present most of the employment in the zone, which is home to about 20,000 people, is centered on agriculture and fishing.