Okada Manila targets the Japanese casino market

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Akihabara News (Tokyo) – Executives at the large Okada Manila casino complex in the Philippines have reiterated that they are looking for investment opportunities in their home market, Japan.

Jason Ader, chairman and CEO of 26 Capital Acquisition Corporation, confirmed that the company plans to seek investment opportunities in casinos in Japan.

The context of the ad is quite complex.

The story begins with Kazuo Okada, a Japanese businessman, who in 1969 founded what is now called Universal Entertainment Corporation, a major producer of pachinko and pachislot machines, slots, and arcade games. and other gaming products.

Okada, now a billionaire, became in 2002 co-founder with Steve Wynn of the large casino company Wynn Resorts.

In 2008, Okada separately founded Tiger Resort, Leisure & Entertainment in the Philippines and began the process of building the Okada Manila casino complex, now valued at $ 2.6 billion.

However, Okada himself lost control of his businesses in 2017 after being accused of embezzling money from his own business, and his ex-wife and children kicked him out of his management position.

This week, it was announced that Universal Entertainment, including Tiger Resort and its Okada Manila resort, would merge with Ader’s 26 Capital Acquisition Corporation and, in the process, be listed on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange in New York City.

The new entity, once the merger is formalized next year, will be approximately 88% owned by Universal Entertainment, which remains a Japanese company.

During the Kazuo Okada era before 2017, he had always had the ambition for Universal Entertainment to enter the casino industry in Japan, once it was legalized.

After Okada’s dethronement, the company’s new leaders took an ambiguous stance, perhaps tacitly acknowledging that their ongoing legal battles with Kazuo Okada and the ensuing scandal made it virtually impossible for government regulators. Japanese accept them as a complex integrated (IR) operator.

The latest merger may be part of an attempt to finally turn the page and move on to a new chapter as a US listed company, making a possible entry into the Japanese IR market a more plausible prospect.

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