Japan gaming firm to invest $2 billion in Pagcor City

By Marianne V. Go, The Philippine Star

Posted at May 10 2012 07:29 AM | Updated as of May 10 2012 07:09 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Japanese gaming firm Universal Entertainment Corp., led by its chairman Kazuo Okada, yesterday said that it is proceeding with its planned $2-billion casino project at the Pagcor Entertainment City.

In a briefing with a select group of newsmen, Okada, speaking through an interpreter, assured that despite an ongoing legal dispute with his former Wynn Resorts partner Steve Wynn in the US, Universal Entertainment Corp. is proceeding with its planned $2-billion casino project (including the land) at the Pagcor Entertainment City.

In fact, Okada revealed, Universal Entertainment has set aside ¥50 billion or $470 million as cashflow for the casino project which is scheduled to be completed and operational by 2014.

The casino project, tentatively called the Manila Bay Resort project, currently has a provisional gaming license from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor).

Approval of the final gaming license is expected once the facilities are completed.

Aside from the casino project, Okada also revealed plans to invest in the manufacture of various casino/gaming machinery and gaming software.

He said Universal Entertainment has already put up local manufacturing facilities in Laguna.

The local manufacturing subsidiary currently called Aruze Gaming America Corp. ( but whose corporate name will be changed) was set up in 2009 with an initial investment of ¥20 billion or $270 million.

Its plant in Laguna currently manufactures parts of slot machines.

Okada revealed that they plan to invest in more metal press and plastic molding machineries. They have also bought another property in Batangas where they plan to expand manufacturing operations in the future.

According to Okada, the planned casino project is envisioned to provide jobs for up to 16,000 workers.

The planned casino project, Okada stressed, is envisioned to be a unique, world-class entertainment resort that would attract and primarily cater to a global foreign market and would be “good for the Philippine economy” because of the jobs and services that would be created.

Okada said his decision to invest in the Philippines is based on his belief that while the US, particularly Las Vegas, continues to be the No. 1 destination for gambling, the trend is now shifting to Asia.

In fact, Okada predicts that Asia will become “very important and the center of the casino industry in the near future.”

Okada expressed his disappointment over his current dispute with Steve Wynn, noting that his former American partner “looks down” on gambling practices in Asia.

Okada and Steve Wynn are currently in a dispute over Okada’s shares in Wynn Resorts in the US.

That dispute has led to a series of reports locally that appeared to cast some questions about Okada’s reputation and his dealings with Pagcor officials.