The first phase of the US$2.4-billion Okada Manila is scheduled to open at the end of December, said the casino resort’s parent company, Japan-based Universal Entertainment Corp. It did not provide a specific date.
“The initial opening of the property, including the hotel (except staterooms for VIPs), food and beverage outlets, casino and other major attractions, will take place at the end of December,” the firm said in its results announcement for the three months ended September 30, filed with the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Friday.
Universal Entertainment also stated it had raised “sufficient funds” for the first phase of Okada Manila (pictured in an artist’s rendering). The firm last month announced that it had concluded a private placement of notes valued at US$400 million in order to “complete the construction of Okada Manila”.
The first phase of the project covers 22 hectares (220,000 square metres) of the overall 44-hectare plot in which the casino resort stands.
Last month, Universal Entertainment’s Philippine subsidiary Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment Inc had said the project was on track to open in December.
Reuters news agency on October 7 quoted Andrea Domingo, head of the country’s casino regulator Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor), as saying that the opening of Okada Manila was set for December 21.
Japanese pachinko entrepreneur Kazuo Okada leads Universal Entertainment.
Under an earlier plan for Okada Manila – originally under the working title Manila Bay Resorts – the casino property should have been completed by March 31, 2015. But Pagcor approved in June 2015 a new timetable that pushed back the completion of the venue to December 31, 2016.
Litigation against Wynn
In its results announcement, Universal Entertainment provided an update on ongoing litigation against U.S.-based casino operator Wynn Resorts Ltd.
In 2012 Wynn Resorts’ board voted to cancel Mr Okada’s 20 percent stake amounting to 24.5 million shares and issue him with a promissory note for US$1.9 billion. The note was in effect a 30 percent discount on the then US$2.77 billion valuation of his stake, held through Universal Entertainment.
Earlier that year Wynn Resorts had alleged in a filing to Nasdaq that Mr Okada had engaged in activities – in pursuit of his own casino licence in the Philippines – that made him “unsuitable” to be a shareholder of Wynn Resorts, a Nevada-regulated casino business. The allegations included claims Mr Okada had breached U.S. anti-bribery laws by providing gifts and things of value to people that at the time were officials at Pagcor, while he was simultaneously seeking a casino licence in Manila.
In Friday’s filing, Universal Entertainment stated that the lawsuit filed against Wynn Resorts in the United States was currently in the stage of disclosure of evidence including discovery and recording of testimony.
“Next will be a trial with witness examinations and other activities that will result in a verdict,” it added. The firm did not provide an estimate of when a verdict on the case could be expected.
Universal Entertainment said it had also filed a lawsuit in Macau against Wynn Resorts (Macau) SA – the local unit that holds the Wynn group’s Macau gaming concession – and four of its directors, including chairman Steve Wynn. The pending suit was filed in February 2015 and asks for the dissolution of Wynn Resorts (Macau) SA and payment of damages totaling about MOP8 billion (US$1 billion), among other actions.
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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