Wynn, Okada trade more blows, but is this all a quarrel between former lovers?

TAGs: Kazuo Okada, Philippines, tiger resorts leisure and entertainment, Universal Entertainment, Wynn Resorts

steve-wynn-kazuo-okada-libelThe Christmas season is all about giving, and former BFFs Steve Wynn and Kazuo Okada are getting into the holiday spirit by giving each other kicks in the nuts. On Thursday, Wynn Resorts Ltd. issued a statement declaring its intention to hold a special shareholder meeting at which the primary goal will be to boot Universal Entertainment chairman Okada from Wynn’s board of directors. Wynn intends to reduce its board from 12 members to eight via three voluntary retirements and the elimination of “an unsuitable director,” and no points for guessing who the latter might be. Steve claims Wynn Resorts’ pursuit of casino licenses in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts “would not be possible” with Captain Unsuitable on its board.

Not to be outdone, Okada chose the same day to file an internet libel suit against Steve for “maliciously” posting the findings of an internal Wynn investigation into Okada’s dealings with Philippine gaming regulators on Wynn’s website in February. Okada filed his suit in Manila via Universal’s Philippine subsidiary Tiger Resorts, Leisure & Entertainment, under the Philippines’ recently enacted cybercrime law. Universal issued a statement describing Wynn’s investigation, which was conducted by former FBI director Louis Freeh, as “clearly an afterthought and was commissioned for the purpose of providing justification for the baseless findings of the Compliance Committee.” Okada says Wynn’s actions have rendered his companies “subject to defamation, damage to credit and other harm.” The libel suit follows a similar action by Universal against Reuters, which last month published further allegations of bribery involving Okada’s companies and Philippine officials.

Frankly, the savagery with which these two former brick-and-mortar buddies are going after each other makes one wonder what it really was that drove a wedge between them. Despite what Steve claims, Okada’s decision to compete with Wynn’s Macau casino by going it alone on an integrated resort casino project in Manila couldn’t have been the deciding factor. After all, Melco Crown has operations in Macau and they’re building a Manila casino. Also building in Manila is Genting, which already has operations in Singapore. Neither of these operators appears swayed by the argument that Manila will unduly cannibalize other casinos in the mammoth Asian market. The only logical conclusion that we can draw is that Steve and Kazuo were once quite literally joined at the hip (nudge nudge, wink wink, watch the video below), but one of them decided to end the relationship, and hell hath no fury like a casino diva scorned…


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