By James A. Loyola
Japanese casino mogul Kazuo Okada remains determined to retire in the Philippines, which he can do so as a holder of an investors-retirees visa, despite recent setbacks in his multi-billion gaming investment at the Pagcor Entertainment City.
While Okada had an opportunity to become the next big thing in the United States casino business, he had opted to invest in the Philippines, saying it has a huge potential for development.
Okada co-founded Wynn Resorts with Steve Wynn, initially investing around $260 million for a 50 percent stake in the company.
The Japanese casino magnate said he had a chance to take over Wynn Resorts as Wynn was in the middle of a divorce. However, Okada did not grab that opportunity as he was focused on his initial plan to put up a casino property in the Philippines.
“I hadn’t really had ambitions of doing so. Going back in time, back to 2008, I was thinking about moving forward and developing something with local partners in the Philippines in 2010,” Okada said.
Okada was impressed with the country’s labor force, calling it hardworking, highly skilled, and proficient in the English language. Thus, he decided to invest in the Philippines, even if the trend back then was for investors to gravitate to China.
Okada then made his dream come true with the multi-billion peso Okada Manila, an integrated hotel-resort-casino.
However, he suffered several setbacks as he was removed as a director of Okada Holdings Ltd., which controls 68 percent of Universal Entertainment Corporation. Universal owns 99.99 percent of Tiger Asia.
Okada’s removal as director of Okada Holdings Ltd. resulted in his removal from Tiger Resorts Leisure and Entertainment, Inc. (TRLEI) in June 2017. TRLEI is the operator of Okada Manila.