Sheldon Adelson backs Okada/Pagcor position, says comped rooms “endemic”

TAGs: Kazuo Okada, PAGCOR, Philippines, sheldon adelson, Wynn Resorts

sheldon-adelson-asia-gamblingPhilippines President Benigno S. Aquino III says he is not yet ready to add his voice to the proposed ban on Steve Wynn ever being allowed to open a Wynn Resorts facility on Philippine soil. The ban, proposed earlier this week by the country’s House of Representatives Committee on Games and Amusements, came in response to Wynn’s ‘night of the long knives’ attack on its former number one shareholder, Universal Entertainment chairman Kazuo Okada, and the accompanying allegations of impropriety in Okada’s dealings with Cristino Naguiat Jr., CEO of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor). The allegations prompted the Palace to order a probe into Naguiat’s activities, and Aquino told a press conference that for him to comment directly on the proposed ban “would mean that there’s a conclusion already to the ongoing investigation … I am not comfortable having a categorical statement prior to the determination of this investigation.”

Wynn’s allegations are that Naguiat was the subject of overly generous accommodations at the Wynn Macau as Okada’s guest in 2010. Wynn further alleges that in doing so, Okada, who is constructing a $2b casino/hotel in Pagcor’s Entertainment City Manila complex, was seeking to improperly curry favor with Naguiat. Naguiat and Okada have steadfastly maintained that such accommodations are a routine part of doing business in Asia, and their argument appears to have the backing of none other than Las Vegas Sands’ titan Sheldon Adelson.

Speaking at a press conference in Tokyo on Tuesday, Adelson said “giving comps to hotel rooms is endemic throughout the entire industry … a hotel room doesn’t mean you’re going to buy that person’s allegiance and buy them to do what you want for billions of dollars worth of anything.” With casinos already in operation in both Macau and Singapore, and the stated aim of opening similar facilities in Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam, Adelson is no stranger to doing business with Asian officials, so one would assume he knows of what he speaks.

Adelson is also no stranger to taking the opposite stance from Steve Wynn, his crosstown rival in both Las Vegas and Macau. Wynn likes to claim that his company opts for ‘class’ while Adelson focuses on ‘mass’. Things have on occasion turned ugly, like the 2005 Forbes article in which Adelson called Wynn a “liar” and “egomaniac.” Wynn responded by describing Adelson as “Mr Magoo, with an edge” and suggested Adelson has “an inferiority complex.” The two had reportedly reconciled last year, drawn together over their mutual hatred of the man currently occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Will Adelson’s latest comments spark another flame war?


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