Japan-listed gambling conglomerate Universal Entertainment Corp. remains bullish about the prospects of its integrated resort in the Philippines as it expects the country’s gaming market to grow this year.
In its latest financial information, Universal announced plans to upgrade and expand Okada Manila’s casino, hotel, entertainment, food & beverage and other aspects to differentiate its Philippine resort from its competitors.
Universal believes that Okada Manila will continue to attract a larger number of people from China, South Korea and other Asian countries, and thus “adding more guest rooms is the highest priority of Okada Manila.”
“The plans also include expansion of the gaming area, including the addition of a casino exclusively for VIP guests, opening more restaurants and enlarging the shopping mall in order to attract an even larger number of guests,” Universal said.
Okada Manila, located at the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation’s Entertainment City gaming zone, is expected to be completed in December 2019. Universal is optimistic that the full-scale operations of a VIP casino will provide a bigger contribution to its annual sales.
In January, international brokerage Morgan Stanley predicted that Okada Manila’s share of Manila integrated resort GGR to rise from 10 percent to 22 percent in 2018.
However, Universal’s expansion plans for Okada Manila might see delays after more than 3,000 Okada Manila workers asked Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to investigate the casino operator’s general contractor, who they claimed illegally terminated them, as well as the alleged non-payment of their salaries and benefits worth more than PHP500 million ($9.6 million).
Pilipino Star Ngayon reported that general contractor TransAsia Construction Development Corp. allegedly failed to pay the Okada construction workers despite earning PHP6 billion ($115.3 million) revenue in 2017.
Worse, the construction workers claimed that TransAsia filed various charges against them to stop their pursuit of unpaid salaries and benefits.
More than 200 former Okada workers have filed a lawsuit against the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) of the Philippine Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). Another 1,000 workers are also expected to file their complaints in the coming days, according to the report.