Pagcor to probe physical takeover of Okada Manila

June 1, 2022 - 5:01 PM
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A view showing Okada Manila in Parañaque City, (Okada Manila/Facebook)

MANILA — Philippine gaming authorities (Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation) said on Wednesday they will probe an incident where representatives of a Japanese casino billionaire entered a Manila casino to take physical control of the premises from its operator.

The Supreme Court in April ruled that Kazuo Okada could once again lead the Okada Manila integrated casino-resort as head of its operator Tiger Resorts, a position he was ousted from in 2017 on suspicion of misappropriating $3 million.

But Tiger Resorts has appealed against the Supreme Court ruling and, had refused to vacate the premises pending a decision on its appeal.

Okada Manila went public in the United States in 2021 through a merger with blank-check firm 26 Capital Acquisition Corp ADER.O in a deal valued at $2.5 billion.

Estrella Elamparo, legal counsel for Tiger Resorts, said the May 31 takeover was “illegal and violent”, saying Okada’s team had taken “by force the physical premises”.

A video shared by Tiger Resorts with local broadcaster ANC showed physical skirmishes and verbal confrontation as guards and police escorted casino personnel out of a dark meeting room at the premises.

Manila’s Southern Police District office said 37 officers provided assistance to implement the Supreme Court order.

Okada and his Filipino partners did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The gaming regulator’s board will meet on Wednesday to discuss investigating the incident and ensure smooth operations of the casino-resort, the agency’s president Alfredo Lim told Reuters.

“I was shocked to read there was violence and intimidation,” Lim said.

The 44-hectare (108 acres) Okada Manila, located beside the Manila Bay, features 993 suites and villas, 500 table games and 3,000 electronic gaming machines.

—Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor

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