Universal Entertainment chairman Kazuo Okada can go on building his $2 billion Manila Bay Resorts project in the Philippines but he won’t be allowed to open casino operations in the integrated resort until he resolves his legal issues.
Those were the sentiments Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) chief counsel Jay Daniel Santiago shared at a recent hearing of the House Committee on Games and Amusement. Responding to concerns Philippine lawmakers have expressed over Okada’s laundry list of legal issues, Pagcor made it abundantly clear that if the Japanese billionaire still has an open case in the country, Pagcor will recall the provisional casino license it issued to Universal’s Philippine subsidiary Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment Inc.
This isn’t the first time Pagcor has threatened Okada with revocation of his casino license. But judging by how the Okada and his subsidiaries have let those threats enter one ear and exit the other, it’s going to take more than Pagcor making new promises to Congress to make them sweat.
Case in point: Joseph Joemer Perez, a lawyer representing Tiger and Eagle 1, told the Manila Bulletin that any questions about foreign ownership of land and investments fell under the jurisdiction of the Securities and Exchange Commission, not the Department of Justice.
For now, construction continues on the $2 billion resort and casino complex. But with its opening scheduled for next year, the window for Universal to resolve its legal issues is closing rapidly.