The under-construction US$2.3-billion Manila Bay Resorts casino project (pictured in a rendering) in the Philippines added three floors to the height of the complex in the three months to September 30. That is according to a filing by its major investor, the Japan-based pachinko machine maker Universal Entertainment Corp.
Jasdaq-listed Universal Entertainment, controlled by U.S. dollar billionaire Kazuo Okada, said of the Manila casino scheme in its second quarter fiscal earnings statement on Friday: “…construction is under way on the hotel towers, which includes the casino. Framework construction has reached the ninth floor.”
The firm added: “The development strategy of this project, including the opening schedule and financial policy, which is being examined, will be disclosed in a timely manner.”
In the first quarter fiscal results to June 30, Universal Entertainment had said that the framework had been constructed as far as the sixth floor level.
In September, Manila Bay Resorts’ developer Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment Inc, a firm led by Mr Okada, said the property was on schedule for a first phase opening in late 2015.
In early October, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor), the country’s gaming regulator, said it was considering ordering the forfeiture of a PHP100 million (US$2.2 million) guarantee lodged by Mr Okada’s side. It said that might happen if he failed to open Manila Bay Resorts in early 2015 as per an investment agreement.
It has been reported that the effort by Mr Okada to find a majority local partner for the 44-hectare (109-acre) parcel of land on which the casino resort sits – as required by Philippines law – had led to delays in the project.
Alleged illegal payments linked to the Manila Bay Resorts scheme have been the subject of separate investigations by the Philippines Department of Justice, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and Nevada’s gaming regulator. Universal Entertainment, its associated firms and Mr Okada all deny wrongdoing.
Meanwhile the consolidated net income of Universal Entertainment rose more than fivefold year-on-year in the second quarter of the firm’s fiscal year, which is due to end on March 31, 2015.
Consolidated net income jumped to just under JPY4.33 billion (US$38 million), from JPY671 million in the year-prior period.
Non-operating income rose threefold during the period, to JPY698 million from JPY230 million in the year prior period.
In the second quarter this fiscal year, the firm also had no losses from foreign exchange – a factor that weighed on the second quarter 2013 to the tune of nearly JPY1.1 billion. In fact Universal Entertainment had a JPY534 million gain from foreign exchange dealings in its latest results.
But total extraordinary losses for the quarter rose 237 percent, to JPY442 million, from JPY131 in the year prior period; with JPY441 million of it due to loss on business of “subsidiaries and associates”, said the company.
Consolidated net sales for the period rose 31 percent to just under JPY38.43 billion. Consolidated operating income rose 73 percent to JPY9.2 billion.
In September the firm launched a new licensed pachislot title called ‘Slot Batman’. It includes a feature allowing players to choose the number of extra games they play.
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”We expect Okada [Manila] to add US$1.2 billion of GGR by 2019 to the overall market, capturing 32 percent market share”
Alex Poon and Praveen Choudhary
Analysts at Morgan Stanley