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Revolution of the Japanese Casino Industry

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — Prepare yourself for the shocking twists and turns in the extraordinary life of Japanese casino mogul Kazuo Okada, as he embarks on a mission to reclaim one of the most prominent casino resorts in the Philippines.

Okada’s journey has been nothing short of legendary. The soon-to-be 80-year-old mogul initially amassed his fortune as a pachinko machine producer through his company, Universal Entertainment Corporation. In the early 2000s, he joined forces with Steve Wynn to venture into the casino business and played a vital role in establishing Wynn Resorts. However, their partnership eventually soured, leading Okada to take a daring gamble by creating his own independent casino resort, Okada Manila, in the heart of the Philippine capital.

Unfortunately, Okada’s fortunes took a tragic turn in early 2017 when he faced allegations of embezzlement and misusing company funds for personal gain. In a true dramatic storyline, he was ousted as the head of Universal Entertainment by his ex-wife and children, losing control of his own creation.

Despite facing arrest warrants and losing multiple court battles in Japan, the Philippines, and beyond, Okada relentlessly fought back, refusing to be defeated. And on April 27, the Supreme Court of the Philippines issued a stunning order, mandating Tiger Resort, Leisure & Entertainment, Inc. (TRLEI), the management company responsible for Okada Manila, to reinstate Okada as the leader.

This decision seemed to contradict a 2020 ruling by the Japanese Supreme Court that upheld Okada’s removal from the helm of the parent company, Universal Entertainment, which holds a 99.9% stake in TRLEI.

On May 31, around fifty security guards and police officers, led by former TRLEI board member Antonio “Tony Boy” Cojuangco and acting on Okada’s behalf, arrived at the casino resort and forcibly ousted the current management loyal to Universal Entertainment.

Lawyer Estrella Elamparo, present during the incident, revealed to local media that senior executive Hajime Tokuda was brutally dragged out of the room by hired hands, effectively kidnapped in front of witnesses. Eventually, Tokuda was released, but the traumatizing experience left its mark.

While Universal Entertainment denounced these actions as “serious criminal offenses” from its Tokyo headquarters, pledging to take legal action, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), the powerful regulator overseeing the country’s gambling industry, waited a few days before throwing its full support behind Okada’s group, downplaying allegations of violence.

However, video footage surfaced that irrefutably showed Tokuda being roughly handled and forcibly removed from the premises, contradicting the claims made by both Okada’s allies and the government regulator.

In the latest developments, the Tokyo-based leadership of Universal Entertainment has accused PAGCOR of “manifest bias” and “acts of graft and corruption” — strong accusations for a major corporation to level against a government organization.

As it stands, the situation is incredibly complex. Okada’s allies now have physical control over TRLEI and the Okada Manila casino resort, seemingly with the backing of Philippine authorities. Meanwhile, the parent company in Tokyo, which owns 99.9% of TRLEI, is vehemently denouncing the violence and corruption associated with the takeover, desperately striving to regain control of the property it legally owns.

This ongoing saga is just the latest chapter in the enthralling world of the Japanese casino industry, filled with power struggles and unexpected twists. Stay tuned for more updates on this captivating story.

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