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Macau-based hotel and casino operator Galaxy Entertainment has dropped its plans to build an integrated report on the Philippines island of Boracay, reports local news source ABS-CBN.

Tourism undersecretary Ricky Alegre, quoting Andrea Domingo, chair of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, said that Galaxy had now withdrawn its plans.

With partner Leisure and Resorts World, Galaxy had reportedly secured a 23-hectare site on the island and a provisional casino licence from PAGCOR for the $500m scheme.

But the plans quickly became mired in controversy with the island set to be closed to tourism for a period of six months for a major environmental clean-up operation.

While LRW said it hoped to begin developing the site, Philippines’ president Rodrigo Duterte intervened, commenting that he did not approve of the scheme and would ensure any land be returned to agricultural and forestry uses after the clean-up.

PAGCOR chair Domingo offered what appeared to be the fatal blow when she confirmed that the provisional licence – thought by some to be Galaxy/LRW’s ace card – was merely the beginning of a long process of submission and approval and did not in any way constitute permission to proceed.

Galaxy is now expected to look elsewhere as it pursues plans to expand beyond Macau.