Asia round-up: Okada denies casino “invasion;” Crown Melbourne & more

By Louis Thompsett

Founder Kazuo Okada denies “illegal and violent invasion” of Okada Manila 

Okada Manila Founder Kazuo Okada has refuted allegations that he staged an “illegal and violent invasion” of the casino amid an ongoing dispute. 

In 2017, the Japanese businessman was ousted from his positions as CEO and Chairman of Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment (TRLEI) due to accusations of financial mismanagement. 

He denied these claims and fought a legal challenge that led to the Supreme Court of the Philippines issuing a status quo ante order (SQAO) earlier this year, reinstating Okada. 

In June, reports emerged that he, accompanied by local police officers, had entered the casino on 31 May and taken physical control, removing Director Hajime Tokuda by force. 

However, in a lengthy statement, Okada has now denied that his takeover was violent and further refuted bribery allegations. 

Calling himself “Daddy O,” the businessman said he, alongside Dindo Espeleta, court enforcement officers, PAGCOR officials and police officers went to Okada Manila to enforce the SQAO. 

They negotiated with Tokuda, presenting the Supreme Court’s decision and proceeded with “peaceful discussions.” 

Tokuda then surrendered his ID and left the conference room, said Okada, but when his lawyers arrived, “they intentionally shouted and made it seem as if we were violent, making it seem as if there was a dispute.” 

“After some time, Mr. Tokuda together with his lawyers and other ousted directors transferred to the Golden Ballroom,” wrote Kazuo Okada. 

“They intentionally shouted and made it seem as if we were violent, intentionally making it seem as if there was a dispute. After some time, Mr. Tokuda together with his lawyers and other ousted directors transferred to the Golden Ballroom” Kazuo Okada, Japanese Businessman

In his statement, Okada also announced that Espeleta has been named Vice Chairman while Antonio O. Cojuangco has been named President of Okada Manila until his return to the Philippines. 

Crown Melbourne to face further disciplinary action from VGCCC 

The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) has announced it will be proceeding with further disciplinary action against Crown Melbourne in line with the Commission’s Responsible Services of Gambling principles. 

As part of an investigation into whether Crown is suitable to hold a casino licence, an official inquiry titled Royal Commission into the Casino Operator and Licence found that Crown had committed numerous infringements of the Responsible Gambling Code of Conduct.

These breaches included a failure to properly supervise or address “hundreds or possibly thousands of customers who exhibited signs of a problem or risky gambling.” 

The VGCCC has requested information on Crown’s Responsible Gambling Code of Conduct and from there will determine what the appropriate disciplinary action should be. 

Options being considered by the VGCCC are a fine of up to AUS$100m (US$68.5m), changes to the operator's licence, or a censuring of Crown and “directing it to take rectification steps.” 

VGCCC Chair Fran Thorn said: “Crown’s responsible gambling obligations are a condition of the casino licence, designed to protect vulnerable patrons and to prevent gambling-related harm to patrons, their families and the community. There is no more important obligation.”   

Paradise Co half-year revenue down 10% year-on-year 

South Korea’s foreign-player-only casino Paradise Co saw its half-year casino revenue decline 10% year-on-year to KRW101.23bn (US$77.9m). 

Notably, Paradise’s table drop amount for the half-year dropped 15% after the company recorded a handle of just KRW39.77bn. 

The operator’s revenue suffered sequential losses too, down 22% for the half-year at KRW13.28bn, a year-on-year decline of 17%. 

Things may have been worse were it not for table games; the vertical accounted for 80% of the operator's revenue in June, and has been a vital source of income over the past six months. 

Paradise operates several foreign-player-only casinos throughout South Korea, including Walkerhill in Seoul, Paradise Jeju on Jeju Island and Paradise City in Incheon.

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