As per a new announcement on Sunday, Japan's Universal Entertainment Corp. said that its local representatives in the Philippines have taken over the operations of the Okada Manila gambling resort. The corporation stated that this represented "the latest step in a long-running ownership dispute".
In a statement, accompanied by a copy of a September 2 order from the local gaming regulator, the group said that the takeover of the $3.3 billion gambling resort, the largest in Southeast Asia, had been "generally peaceful".
The regulator, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) said in its order that it was withdrawing its recognition of board members of Tiger Resort Leisure and Entertainment, the developer and operator of Okada Manila, previously installed by a group including Japanese tycoon Kazuo Okada. Aditionally, the regulator also directed Okada's Filipino partners to stop operating the casino and disbursing funds from the property's coffers.
PAGCOR said that only Okada himself would be recognized henceforth, in compliance with a Philippine Supreme Court order in April that reinstated the pachinko mogul as chairman, stockholder, and director of Tiger Resort. Okada had been ousted from both Tiger Resort's and from Universal's boards in 2017.
According to Reuters, the group of Okada and his Filipino associates said on Sunday that PAGCOR had defied the Supreme Court order and that they would take legal action over the matter, however, they did not give further details on the matter.
In a notice issued on Saturday after the order from PAGOR, Okada Manila had said "business remains as usual" at the 44-hectare (108-acre) resort.
Back in June, the ousted board of Okada Manila sued Japanese tycoon Kazuo Okada and his partners. The businessman is being accused of coercion and other misconduct in what is said to have been a "violent and illegal" seizure of the resort that month. In a long-running dispute over control of Tiger Resorts, Leisure & Entertainment -owned by Japan-based Universal Entertainment Inc-, Kazuo Okada and representatives took physical control of the $3.3 billion casino on May 31.
Okada Manila started operations late in 2016. With 993 suites and villas, 500 table games, and 3,000 electronic gaming machines. It is the biggest of four multibillion-dollar casino-resorts operating in the Philippine capital, which has one of Asia's most freewheeling gaming industries.