CASINO

Okada Manila to open December 21 (promise)

TAGs: anti-money laundering, Kazuo Okada, okada manila, Philippines

okada-manila-opening-december-21Kazuo Okada’s new Philippine resort casino Okada Manila will open on December 21, becoming the third integrated resort to launch in Manila’s Entertainment City gaming zone.

On Thursday, Okada’s local partner, businessman Antonio Cojuangco, confirmed the December 21 date during an interview at the Pilipinas Conference in Manila. The oft-delayed property had promised a soft-opening last month but “worse-than-expected weather conditions” forced the launch to be pushed back a month.

Okada’s Universal Entertainment raised another $200m last month to ensure the timely completion of the $2.4b Okada Manila project. The Standard claimed that 18k workers were striving to make sure Okada doesn’t have to play the Grinch this Christmas by announcing another delay.

Okada Manila will join Bloomberry Resorts’ Solaire Resort & Casino and Melco Crown Entertainment’s City of Dreams Manila in Entertainment City. The fourth and final project, Travellers International’s West Side City Resorts World, won’t arrive until 2020 at the earliest.

All these casinos will soon be facing increased financial scrutiny thanks to the government’s desire to include casinos in the list of financial institutions covered under the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) 2001.

A week ago, Sen. Francis Escudero, chairman of the Committee on Banks, Financial Institutions and Currencies, announced the delivery of Senate Committee Report No. 13, which will require casinos to report transactions over P500k (US $10k) to the Anti-Money Laundering Council. The $10k threshold represents a break from the $3,200 limit proposed by the Senate this summer.

The new requirements are intended to address the public relations nightmare that came from this year’s great Bangladeshi bank heist, in which a sizable chunk of the purloined $81m was funneled through the country’s casino and junket operator sector.

But the Philippines is also hoping to avoid sanctions by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which will conduct its next assessment of the Philippine market in June 2017. The previous review in 2014 saw the FATF warn that failure to step up oversight of the casino sector would result in the Philippines making the FATF’s ‘grey’ list of financially suspect nations.

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