Inside Asian Gaming

inside asian gaming November 2017 24 Japan’s Universal Entertainment ousted founder Kazuo Okada earlier this year, prompting questions about the future of the integrated resort bearing his name and the company’s Japan casino ambitions. Feature In Focus Launching Okada Manila, even with a fraction of its guest rooms, gaming areas and dining available, involved numerous legal and personal rows, notably costing Mr Okada his US$2.8 billion leading stake in Wynn Resorts and triggering investigations in at least four jurisdictions. Okada Manila seemed worth it: Morgan Stanley forecasts Okada’s 2019 gross gaming revenue at US$1.1 billion, a 32% share of the Manila IR market. Then things fell apart for Okada Manila and its namesake again. In early June, Universal announced it was investigating Mr Okada for diverting corporate funds for his private use, leading to his ouster as Chairman. The company’s probe found that in three cases during 2015, Mr Okada abused company funds as his own – diverting the proceeds of a loan, improperly drawing a corporate check and posting company funds as personal loan collateral – enriching himself by US$20 million. Mr Okada, 74, who founded the company in 1969 and made it a leading pachinko and slot machine maker, insists he’s the victim of a cabal led by a former protégé, Universal President Jun Fujimoto, and an ungrateful family that voted him down from Okada Holdings, the Hong Kong entity that holds 69% of Universal’s shares. HISTORY REPEATS In the tangled web of Asia’s family controlled corporations, Mr Okada’s alleged indiscretions might be chalked up as honest mistakes, undone with a fund transfer and an apology. The By Muhammad Cohen | Editor-at-Large Muhammad Cohen also blogs for Forbes on gaming throughout Asia and wrote Hong Kong On Air , a novel set during the 1997 handover about TV news, love, betrayal, high finance and cheap lingerie. NOkada Manila A fter years of controversy, it all seemed to be coming together for Okada Manila, the brainchild of Universal Entertainment Corp founder Kazuo Okada. The biggest integrated resort project in the Philippine capital’s burgeoning Entertainment City district opened last December with Chairman Okada’s name on it. That same month legislators in Japan passed a preliminary casino legalization bill, making the pachinko mogul’s long held ambition to own a casino in his homeland a possible dream.