Asia round-up: Manila offices; Kazuo Okada and Wynn Resorts

Manila online casinos vacate half their offices

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Manila online casinos have decided to vacate half of their offices in the Philippine capital during the Covid-19 pandemic, as travel restrictions, taxes, as well as tough relations between China and the Philippines throttle operations.

Data from Colliers International showed that during the fourth quarter of last year, 677,000 square metres of Metro Manila office spaces were occupied, down from 1.3 million square metres occupied at the start of 2020. Because of the lower occupancy rate, Colliers International’s share of Metro Manila’s office stock fell to 5% from 11%.

Several gaming operators decided to leave because of travel restrictions and new taxes, according to Dom Fredrick Andaya, Senior Director at Colliers in Manila. He suggested another reason for their departure is represented by the uncertainties over Philippine-China relations, as the Southeast Asian nation is set to elect a new President in May.

Andaya added that 19% of Manila’s workspace may end up vacant this year and next, as nearly 1.5 million square metres of office space is scheduled to be added during 2023.

He did mention that if online casinos return and add to demand from outsourcing companies, the vacancy may ease.

In regard to loosening travel regulations, Andaya added “it’s really up to Philippine-China relations, with respect to the level of tolerance in allowing the industry to prosper.”

Kazuo Okada ordered to pay $50m for litigation against Wynn Resorts

A federal appeals court has decided that Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada is to pay $50m in fees to law firm Bartlit Beck LLP for litigation against operator Wynn Resorts.

Barlit Beck law firm represented Okada in a lawsuit against Wynn Resorts after it had forced Okada’s Universal Entertainment Corp to sell back its stake in the company at a discount, following an internal anti-corruption inquiry.

The case settled in Okada’s favour in 2018 for $2.6bn and, according to the law firm, Okada refused to pay the $50m fee in the engagement agreement.

Following the court's decision, Okada now owes Barlit Beck over $63m after accrued interest, the firm suggested.

According to Okada’s claims, he was unable to present his case to the panel of arbitrators back in July 2018. He believes the arbitration panel’s decision to move forward without him was unreasonable and unfair. He added that he was unable to travel because of a medical emergency.

However, he had participated in the arbitration for over one year, yet stopped just prior to an evidentiary hearing; the arbitration panel subsequently awarded Barlit Beck $50m by default.

"Put plainly, Okada took himself out of the race. He cannot now complain that he was unfairly deprived of the chance to win," Circuit Judge Diane Wood, joined by Circuit Judges Daniel Manion and Ilana Diamond Rovner, wrote.

Bartlit Partner Joshua Ackerman commented on the decision, saying: "We plan to pursue him through every means available to us until he pays the fee."

Spotlight Sports Group signs with Sky City

Spotlight Sports Group has agreed a new partnership with Sky City. The deal will allow Sky City to deploy multi-lingual media platforms to engage its audience with localised and in-depth sports content.

The partnership is scheduled to commence in Q2 of 2022, with the launch of two new media websites and respective apps.

The first site will focus solely on global horse and greyhound racing, while the second will cover seven different sports in localised languages.

Speaking about the deal, Spotlight Sports Group CCO, Sam Houlding said: "Our leading blend of technology, media expertise and expert content in over 70 localised languages means we are in a unique position to instantly scale any publisher's sports content offering.

"Strategically, this is a significant B2B media partnership for us and broadens our global reach, with this agreement in Asia following our recent expansion to service Spanish speaking markets with our partnership; and our continued growth in North America.’’

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