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Okada upbeat on PH casino prospects

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Japanese casino mogul Kazuo Okada said he was determined to retire in the Philippines, which he could only do so as a holder of an investors/retirees visa, despite legal issues involving Okada Manila, an integrated hotel, resort and casino in Parañaque City. 

Several years ago, Okada recalled that he had an opportunity to become the next big thing in the United States casino business, but he opted to invest in the Philippines, saying it has a huge potential for development. 

Okada co-founded Wynn Resorts with Steve Wynn, initially investing around $260 million for a 50-percent stake in the company. 

The Japanese casino magnate had a chance to take over Wynn Resorts as Wynn was in the middle of a divorce. However, Okada did not grab that opportunity saying that  he was focused on his initial plan to put up a casino property in the Philippines. 

“I hadn’t really had ambitions of doing so. Going back in time, back to 2008, I was thinking about moving forward and developing something with local partners in the Philippines in 2010,” Okada said in an interview with Inside Asian Gaming. 

Okada said he even enticed Wynn to join his business venture in the Philippines. 

“I had explained to Steve Wynn that I found some local partners in the Philippines and invested into a property where a casino can be established,” added Okada, who said that back in 2010, the Philippines was ripe for development, with an economic growth of around 7 percent. 

Okada was impressed with the country’s labor force, calling it hardworking, highly skilled, and proficient in the English language. Thus, he decided to invest in the Philippines, even if the trend back then was for investors to gravitate to China. 

Okada then made his dream come true with the multi-billion peso Okada Manila. 

But he suffered several setbacks as he was removed as a director of Okada Holdings Ltd, which controls 68 percent of Universal Entertainment Corp. Universal owns 99.99 percent of Tiger Asia.  

Okada’s removal as director of Okada Holdings Ltd. resulted in his ouster from Tiger Resorts Leisure and Entertainment, Inc in June 2017. TRLEI is the operator of Okada Manila. 

Okada recently regained control of Okada Holdings Ltd. and is currently in the process of regaining his place in TRLEI through an intra-corporate lawsuit that he filed before the Paranaque Regional Trial Court. 

In his complaint, Okada prayed for his immediate reinstatement, saying that his ouster as shareholder, director, chairman and Chief Executive Officer of TRLEI is null and void ab initio, for being without authority and in violation of laws.


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