Kazuo Okada

The Philippines gambling regulator is losing patience with Kazuo Okada’s casino project as it misses yet more completion deadlines. (Image: Reuters)

The Philippines gambling regulator is threatening to pull the plug on a new AUD2.7 billion casino venture by Japanese mogul, Kazuo Okada.

The new mega-resort in Manila is the brainchild of Tiger Resorts Leisure and Entertainment, but construction delays may result in the firm’s license being revoked, the South China Morning Post reports.

“They [Tiger] requested for more time to finish the project,” the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation’s (PAGCOR) Francis Hernando told AFP.

“We gave them 90 days to explain why the licence should not be suspended because of the delays.”

Tiger has already lost 100 million pesos (AUD2.7 million) after its assurance bond was confiscated. However, even with more time given to explain the reasons behind the construction delays, it seems unlikely the firm will ever get the money back.

Tiger, an affiliate of the Universal Entertainment Group in Japan, has already failed in meeting two earlier deadlines for its Manila Bay Resorts complex, in December 2013 and March 2015.

According to Reuters, a 2016 opening date is now being planned.

Manila’s Entertainment City to Rival Macau

It’s perhaps understandable that Tiger’s project is hitting delays, as developers aim to build an even bigger and better integrated resort than was previously planned.

When, and if, the Tiger casino complex is finished, it will sit alongside other casinos in the city’s Entertainment City, two of which are already operating.

The Philippines is going through something of a casino boom at the moment as countries in Asia race to take advantage of a gambling appetite in the region and a slump in Macau trade. 

Both Australia and Vietnam have made moves to build bigger resorts, while Singapore is fast becoming one of the centres of gambling in Asia.

With the Chinese government clamping down on businessmen and public officials taking cash to Macau, millionaire gamblers are seeking other channels for their money to flow down.

Caesars Entertainment, who operates Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, is yet to receive an answer on a proposed AUD1.3 billion casino resort near Manila airport.

The VP of gaming and licensing and development at PAGCOR (Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp) said, however, that tourist regions such as Cebu had a better chance of success in licence applications than new projects in Manila.

Meanwhile, the Sino-American Gaming Investment Group and Macau Resources Group (which currently runs the Galaxy Macau high rollers room) are teaming up for two properties, with around $1 billion (AUD1.3 billion) being earmarked for the casino projects.

Casino giant, Genting Hong Kong Ltd, is scheduled to complete a $1.1 billion (AUD1.4 billion) Resorts World Bayshore complex of its own in three years’ time.

Packer’s City of Dreams Open

However, it’s gambling moguls Lawrence Ho and Crown CEO James Packer who are leading the Filipino charge. His Melco Crown project, City of Dreams, opened at the beginning of the year.

The AUD1.3 billion resort is the first City of Dreams resort to open outside Macau.

“The Philippines is one of the fastest growing economies anywhere in the world. We are very lucky to be here,” said Mr. Ho in February.

“We think this market in terms of tourism, overall economy and consumer spending is consistently on the rise going forward.”

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