Okada Manila in the Philippines is winning more money on its gaming floor, and that’s leading to higher revenues for the resort’s parent company Universal Entertainment.
In Universal’s second quarter report, the Japanese-based conglomerate reveals that gross gaming revenue (GGR) January through June is up 44.7 percent. Casino win is at PHP 17.66 billion ($340 million).
At Okada Manila, an integrated casino resort owned and operated by the Universal Entertainment Group, the number of guests increased in the second quarter and there was growth in the volume of all segments,” a release explained. “Growth included the VIP category as well as the mass-market table games and machines. The result was a big increase in sales.”
Built at a cost of $2.4 billion, Okada Manila features more than 3,000 slot machines and 500 table games.
In 2014, China President Xi Jinping launched a crackdown on VIP junket groups that organize travel for the mainland’s wealthiest citizens to the tax haven of Macau. That led to GGR in the world’s richest casino market dropping from $45 billion in 2013, to less than $28 billion in 2016.
Closer monitoring of junket groups led to many Chinese millionaires taking their gaming dollars elsewhere. And the Philippines capital city of Manila and its multibillion-dollar resorts in Entertainment City benefitted.
The United Nations voiced concerns last month regarding Southeast Asia casinos not having the appropriate safeguards to combat money laundering. “Many of these casinos emerged after a crackdown on money laundering activities in Macau, China, in 2014, raising concerns that a ‘displacement’ of criminal activities associated with casinos has taken place to Southeast Asia,” the UN stated.
Bloomberry Resorts – the parent company to the $1.2 billion Solaire Resort & Casino in Manila – is building a pier for cruise ships in the Manila Bay that’s expected to open in 2021. The two-berth pier, the first cruise ship dock in the Philippines, will allow large vessels to transport passengers from China to the Philippines.
Along with Okada Manila, Universal Entertainment’s other businesses include manufacturing gaming equipment and operating interactive social casino games. Its founder, Kazuo Okada, is no longer with the company after his ousting in June of 2017.
The Japanese billionaire – dubbed the “Pachinko King” – is accused of stealing more than $17 million from the conglomerate in order to purchase artworks for his private collection. He also allegedly swindled $3.1 million from Universal subsidiary Tiger Resort Leisure and Entertainment.
Okada denies the allegations, but the Universal board, which includes his own family members, nonetheless removed him. The 77-year-old is offering JPY 100 million ($940,000) to anyone who can help him regain control of the gaming empire.
Forbes estimates Okada is worth $2.1 billion. The businessman made a considerable amount of his wealth by being an early investor in Wynn Resorts. Fellow billionaire Steve Wynn disassociated from Okada in 2008 after rumors emerged the Japanese tycoon was bribing officials in the Philippines to allow him to build Okada Manila.