The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) has urged Japanese casino tycoon and billionaire Kazuo Okada to iron out the latest complication in the latter’s attempt to develop a multi-billion dollar integrated hotel and casino in Entertainment City.
Last week, Okada’s Tiger Resorts Leisure and Entertainment and the Gokongwei-owned Robinsons Land broke off their talks on a deal to co-develop a $2 billion casino-resort complex in Entertainment City, leaving Okada’s group with no land deal and more importantly, no local partner to help develop its enormous project.
According to Pagcor, Okada cannot proceed with his hotel and casino project without resolving his land issues, something the Gokongwei deal would have taken cared of because the latter would have taken ownership of the property Okada’s casino project would be built on.
Speaking to Reuters, Thadeo Francis Hernando, Pagcor vice-president for licensed casino development, said: “The solution is entirely up to them. As long as there is an apparent breach of the constitutional limitation on land ownership, we cannot allow the casino to open, that’s the extent of our regulatory mandate.”
After months of negotiations between Tiger Resorts and Robinsons Land, the proposed partnership between the two fell through last week, putting an end to months of negotiations that had nothing to show for it in the end despite numerous attempts, including prolonging the negotiations, by both sides to come to an agreement.
This setback is the latest in what has become a pretty messy project for Okada and his company. It still has to deal with bribery allegations involving the securing of its casino license in the Philippines. Pagcor has already gone on record saying that if these allegations are proven, then it would “think seriously” of stripping the company of its casino license in the Philippines.
For now, Tiger Resorts still has it in their pockets. But it’s got to find another local partner, particularly because Philippine law forbids foreign companies from owning land in the country. Without a local partner with land ownership in Entertainment City, Tiger Resorts can’t proceed building its lavish integrated casino project. And that’s a pretty big problem to have at this stage in the development process.