Despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s crackdown on online gambling, Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada will proceed with his $2.4-billion casino investment in the Philippines, according to a top executive on October 5.
Okada Manila is said to be the Philippines’ counterpart for Las Vegas. It will be among the billion dollar casinos lined up along a Manila Bay strip.
“The initial opening of the property, including the hotel, food and beverage outlets, casino and other major attractions, will take place in December,” ABS CBN News quoted Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment Inc. as saying, though no date was yet specified.
They were supposed to open in November.
Andrea Domingo, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor) chairperson, tipped Reuters in a text message that the soft opening was set for Dec. 21. Pagcor regulates casino operations in the country.
Universal informed the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Monday that it was “carefully considering the optimal timing for opening the facility” due to recent actions by the Philippine government (on online gaming) and as it considers the approaching economic disposition of the country.
The company, controlled by Kazuo Okada, a Japanese slot machine tycoon, possesses one of four licenses through Tokyo-based Universal Entertainment to manage a casino complex located in Entertainment City and which is said to equal popular gambling hubs found in Las Vegas, Singapore and Macau.
Other casino players holding similar license in the country are Bloomberry Resorts Corp. plus the partnership of Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd. and Belle Corp., each worth at least a billion dollars.
Around 8,000 new jobs
The Japanese casino is expected to create more jobs for Filipinos in the country aside from attracting more tourists to the city—these were among the benefits of having Okada Manila, a giant $2.4 billion casino project, operate in the country according to Okada Manila President Stephen Wolstenholme.
“Come back here, where [the economy is] growing seven percent though you will be stuck in traffic,” Wolstenholme was quoted by ABS CBN News as saying. The casino will reportedly generate at least 8,000 jobs in the country, hence Wolstenholme’s confident invitation to interested overseas Filipino workers (OFW) working in casinos abroad to come home and find employment here.
On the other hand, “Manila can be top of mind 10-15 years down the road, not just Hong Kong, not just Singapore,” the Okada Manila president added, hinting on the tourism boost potential of the project.