Japan’s Universal Entertainment Corp, parent of the firm promoting the under-construction Okada Manila casino resort in the Philippines, said in a statement on Monday it is “carefully considering the optimal timing” for the opening the property.
In July a senior executive of the scheme’s promoter, Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment Inc, was quoted saying the site (pictured in an artist’s rendering) would open “before the end of the year”.
Universal Entertainment, founded by Japanese pachinko entrepreneur Kazuo Okada, stated in its Monday announcement: “Okada Manila… has not markedly lagged behind the original plan although the progress has differed somewhat from the plan, affected by worse-than-expected weather conditions.”
The company added: “In view of policy actions by the Philippines government and the economic environment in the near term, we are now in the process of carefully considering the optimal timing for opening the facility towards delivering maximised shareholder value. Therefore, once having completed revising the full-year [earnings] guidance and considered the opening timing for Okada Manila, we will provide relevant disclosure in a timely manner.”
Although Okada Manila hopes to attract visitors from overseas, the country’s president, Rodrigo Duterte, has recently indicated his administration is opposed to the proliferation of gaming products delivered via the Internet and aimed at domestic players.
Under an earlier plan for Okada Manila – originally slated as a US$2.3 billion venture under the working title Manila Bay Resorts – the casino property should have been completed by March 31, 2015. But the country’s regulator, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor), approved in June 2015 a new timetable that pushed back the completion of the venue to December 31, 2016.
Universal Entertainment also mentioned in its Monday announcement that the group was revising upward – by 58.4 percent – its forecast for net income attributable to owners of the parent firm, regarding the first half of the fiscal year ending in March 2017. The relevant period covers April 1 to September 30 inclusive.
Universal Entertainment now expects such income to be JPY16 billion (US$157.9 million) rather than the JPY10.1 billion estimated previously. It said the reason for the change was a higher than expected gain on foreign exchange valuation, due to the strength of Japan’s currency.
The parent of Universal Entertainment is a non-listed firm with a Hong Kong address, called Okada Holdings Ltd.
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"If the [Macau casino] concessions are put up for bid, there will also be a lot of giant Chinese companies, some having nothing to do with gaming, which would like to take over these enormously successful casinos”
Professor emeritus at Whittier Law School in California, in the United States, and a visiting professor at University of Macau