Japanese Pachinko King Billionaire Kazuo Okada Loses Court Battles in Philippines, Tokyo

Posted on: July 19, 2019, 08:28h. 

Last updated on: July 19, 2019, 08:28h.

“Pachinko King” Kazuo Okada was once one of the most powerful individuals in the Asia gaming industry, but after losing court decisions in the Philippines and Japan this week, the billionaire’s muscle continues to weaken.

Kazuo Okada lawsuit Manila Japan
Courts in both the Philippines and Japan have handed down decisions against Kazuo Okada. (Image: Bloomberg)

The Paranaque Regional Trial Court Branch 257 in Manila denied Okada’s attempt to have an arrest warrant nulled that’s related to the charges of “estafa” he’s facing by Filipino authorities.

The 77-year-old billionaire is accused of swindling $3.1 million from Tiger Resort Leisure and Entertainment – the parent company to Okada Manila – between November 2016 and March 2017.

Okada is worth an estimated $2.2 billion by Forbes. He made his fortune by manufacturing pachinko and slot machines, and was an early investor in Wynn Resorts. Steve Wynn severed ties with Okada in 2008 after allegations came to light that he was bribing officials in the Philippines to allow him to build what became the $2.4 billion Okada Manila.

Universal Decisions

Okada was ousted from his company Universal Entertainment and its subsidiaries Okada Holdings and Tiger Resort in June 2017 after he was accused by the Universal board of stealing more than $17 million from the group to purchase artworks for his private collection. Okada’s own children and wife backed his removal.

In response, Okada launched the most bizarre social media campaign on YouTube offering a JPY 100 million check ($930,000) to anyone who helps him regain control of the gaming empire he founded.

A Japanese court ruled this week that his removal was lawful. The Tokyo High Court dismissed claims from Okada’s attorneys that the trust agreement Universal reached for his daughter Hiromi and son Tomohiro is invalid. The court called the appeal “groundless.”

While Hiromi’s relationship is said to still be strong with Okada, his relationship with Tomohiro is strained. Under the trust, Tomohiro maintains a majority 53 percent voting power in the combined group, meaning the odds of his father being reinstated to the board are long.

Fall From Graces

Kazuo Okada and Steve Wynn were once close pals, as the Japanese tycoon helped the Las Vegas visionary launch his casino company following his sale of Mirage Resorts. Okada invested $380 million in Wynn Resorts, and sat on the company’s board of directors until 2013.

Mr. Wynn was first to sever ties by not investing in Okada Manila. Okada refused to leave until 2013 when Wynn Resorts forcibly redeemed his 20 percent ownership stake through a 10-year promissory note valued at $1.9 billion.

“I no longer believe it is appropriate for me to serve on the board of directors of a company that is behaving in a manner that I deeply believe to be unethical, and that has refused my reasonable requests to promptly investigate what appears to me to be misconduct by Steve Wynn, and thus is under the dictatorship of Mr. Wynn and fails to fulfill its original function,” Okada wrote in scathing six-page letter in 2013.

Today, Mr. Wynn is no longer associated with Wynn Resorts following the 2018 alleged sexual misconduct scandal, and Mr. Okada is no longer part of Universal Entertainment due to allegations of estafa.