Okada’s Delayed Manila Casino May See $4 Billion Investments

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Japanese tycoon Kazuo Okada increased its budget for the first phase of a Philippine casino by a third to $2 billion, in return for obtaining a government extension on the delayed project in the capital city Manila.

The total investment on the entire complex may reach about $4 billion, said Kenji Sugiyama, president at Okada’s Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment Inc. The initial phase, scheduled to open December 2016, will have two hotels with 1,000 rooms, 500 gaming tables, and feature a nightclub and man-made beach housed in a giant glass dome, he said.

“Part of our vision is to be the one-stop destination.,” Sugiyama said in an interview in Manila. “Once they come here, they don’t need to go out -- everything is here.” The company will hire 8,000 employees for the first phase, he said.

The Okada project is among four integrated casino resorts the government wants built in the 120-hectare (297-acre) Entertainment City complex along Manila bay to compete with Asian neighbors Singapore and Macau for gaming revenues. Each holder of the four licenses were required to spend at least $1 billion to build luxury hotels, shops, entertainment areas and gambling floors.

Tiger Resort had sought to postpone the opening of its casino to December 2016, after it missed an earlier March 2015 deadline as Okada encountered delays finding a local partner, which was needed to meet a cap on foreign land ownership.

Funding Proof

Philippine Amusement & Gaming Corp., the national casino regulator, has approved a Dec. 2016 commencement date for Okada’s casino under a new implementation plan that will take effect once the businessman meets certain requirements, Pagcor Vice President Francis Hernando said Thursday.

These include proof that funds are available to complete the casino resort, he said, adding Okada’s group has submitted letters from potential funders and has so far spent about $800 million in the project.

Okada’s group has partnered with local businessman Antonio Cojuangco for the Manila casino, after selling its stake in a company that controls the project’s land site to a firm owned by Cojuangco, Sugiyama said.

Tokyo-based Universal Entertainment Corp., of which Okada is chairman, said in a statement Tuesday it plans to issue as much as $900 million in bonds to help build the Manila casino.

The venture may consider listing the project once it starts operating, as part of a long-term financing plan, Cojuangco said Thursday in a separate briefing in Manila. Cojuangco’s All Seasons Hotel & Resort Corp. holds 24 percent of the company that owns the land for Okada’s casino resort.

Gaming Revenue

The Philippine casino regulator said earlier this month gaming revenue could increase 20 percent this year to $3 billion even as China’s anti-corruption crackdown hurt gambling in other parts of Asia.

A 16 percent gain in first half gaming revenue to $1.4 billion supports the outlook that the Philippines’ mix of foreign players is not dependent on China, the regulator’s chairman Cristino Naguiat said in a July 14 interview.

Bloomberry Resorts Corp.’s $1.2 billion Solaire Manila opened March 2013, making it Entertainment City’s first casino project, while Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd.’s City of Dreams Manila formally opened this February. Travellers International Hotel Group Inc. is planning to open Bayshore City Resorts World in phases starting from 2019.

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