Casino Okada Manila, at the center of an ownership dispute, attracts more visitors
MANILA — Okada Manila, the Philippine casino at the center of a bitter dispute over its ownership, saw an increase in visitors in June from the previous month, management said.
Foot traffic was up 8% from May and was around 74% of its pre-pandemic level, it said in a statement, adding that the casino plans to open more stores and add entertainment attractions.
“As the economy and borders open, Okada Manila is expected to maintain momentum,” management said in the statement at its first press conference since taking physical control of the casino on May 31. .
Filipino associates of Japanese tycoon Kazuo Okada have seized the $3.3 billion casino, which is owned by Tiger Resort, Leisure & Entertainment, overthrowing its previous management with the help of private security guards and local police.
The move came after the Philippines’ Supreme Court issued a “standstill ante” order in April, reinstating Okada, who was ousted in 2017, as CEO of the casino-resort.
The ousted Tiger Resort board sued Okada’s group, accusing it of using ‘brute force and intimidation’ in a ‘violent’ takeover of the property, and also appealed of the court’s decision.
Norman Golez, Okada’s attorney, said at Monday’s press conference that the May 31 takeover was legal and peaceful.
The ousted board reiterated on Monday that it was in fact “a violent takeover.”
Tiger Resort, owned by Japanese Universal Entertainment Corp 6425.T, said Okada Manila’s growth was driven by a stimulus plan drawn up by former officials and influenced by pent-up demand for leisure activities. Okada was also ousted from Universal’s board in 2017.
Universal has agreed to merge Okada Manila with 26 Capital Acquisition Corp ADER.Oa Nasdaq-listed blank check company, for $2.5 billion and extended its deadline for the merger until September 30 following the ownership buyout.
26 Capital said it believed Universal would soon regain control of Okada Manila.
The 44-hectare (108-acre) Okada Manila began operations in late 2016. With 993 suites and villas, 500 table games and 3,000 electronic gaming machines, it is the largest of the four casino resorts multi-billion dollar operating in the capital of the Philippines, which boasts one of the fastest growing gaming industries in Asia.
—Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales Editing by Edwina Gibbs and Mark Potter