Filipino tycoon in talks with Japanese billionaire for Vegas-style casino
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Kazuo Okada and John Gokongwei.
Sources in the stock market said Gokongwei’s property arm, Robinson Land, has offered to run the gaming and retail operations of Okada’s Tiger Resorts project, worth us$ 2 billion, in Entertainment City, a 100-hectare property on the edge of Manila Bay.
Tiger has rights to develop 45 hectares, the biggest among the four licensees, in Entertainment City. An official of the Gokongwei group, who requested not to be named because he was not authorised to speak for the conglomerate, said the group was considering the project.
To beat Wynn Resorts
The sources said the Gokongwei group beat several local businesses, notably the Lopez group, that vied to be a partner of Okada. The Lopezes own media giant ABS-CBN Broadcasting and property developer Rockwell Land.
Okada, also known as the pachinko king of Japan, broke ground on his casino in Entertainment City on January 26, promising more than 2,000 guest rooms in three hotels, with the planned opening in the first half of 2014.
The groundbreaking came a few weeks before his American partner in Macau and Las Vegas casinos, Steve Wynn, accused him of making improper cash payments and gifts to Philippine gaming regulators.
Okada denied making improper payments. Wynn sees his project in Entertainment City as a threat to his casino in Macau. On his visit to Manila in May, Okada predicted that the center of gravity of the global gaming industry would shift from Las Vegas to Asia, with the Philippines playing a significant part in attracting patrons from around the world.
“My dream is to create the best casino in the world here in the Philippines,” he said. “This is why I’m focusing on Philippine gaming-to make it the best in the world and to beat Wynn Resorts.”