The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (PAGCOR), which is responsible for regulating the casino industry in the Philippines, has denied harsh accusations from the Universal Entertainment Corp (UEC), a parent company of Leisure and Entertainment Inc (TRLEI), that its position in the dispute regarding the control of the Okada Manila gaming resort is biased in favor of Kazuo Okada.
A Hostile Takeover Upsets Universal Entertainment
On Tuesday, representatives of Okada Manila gaming resort’s founder, Kazuo Okada, entered the premises of the resort together with 50 private guards, police officers and city officials in order to enforce a STATUS QUO ANTE ORDER issued by the Supreme Court in the beginning of May. The order decreed that the composition of the board of directors of TRLEI has to be restored to the composition it had in 2017. On its part, PAGCOR sent a monitoring team to the scene with the purpose of guarding its own and the Philippine government’s interests, while at the same time ensuring the welfare of the players and that operation are not disrupted.
Universal Entertainment claims that these actions by PAGCOR, together with the fact that it recognized Dindo A. Espeleta as TRLEI’s new representative for PAGCOR, show that the regulator is favoring Okada’s representatives. As a regulating body, PAGCOR is not allowed to choose a side in an intra-corporate dispute and should not get involved in a matter, which is rather within the jurisdiction of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Universal Entertainment’s representatives further described Mr Okada’s actions as “a violent takeover” and defined PAGCOR’s involvement in the case as “blatantly taking the side of the usurper Kazuo Okada.” Furthermore, Universal Entertainment has argued against the statement of PAGCOR president and chief operating officer Mr Alfredo Lim that the takeover was peaceful and orderly, pointing out that there are numerous viral videos showing the utter opposite.
PAGCOR Insists It Remains Neutral in the Matter
In its own defense, PAGCOR stressed that it followed the law and the process rules that apply to the issued court order. It emphasized its neutrality in the matter and denied further comments as the dispute is currently being handled by the court.
Universal Entertainment has already appealed against the court order by the Supreme Court, which, according to their interpretation, did not have the effect of handing the physical control of the resort to Mr Okada.
Mr Okada, who is the founder of Universal Entertainment, was removed from the company and from the board of TRLEI after accusations of fraud in 2017.
Philippines-based Tiger Resort Leisure and Entertainment Inc (TRLEI) provides recreational services in the Philippines. The company is under the control of Hong Kong-based Tiger Resort Asia Ltd, which on its part is a unit of Universal Entertainment. TRLEI is the promoter of the Okada Manila casino resort.