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The latest developments across the Indian and international gaming sector has kept the temperatures rising. While the government of Goa has talked about shifting of offshore casinos as part of its draft Tourism policy, a court in Philippines has issued an arrest warrant for Japanese business magnate and former Chairman and CEO of Tiger Resorts Leisure Entertainment Inc. (TRLEI), Kazuo Okada.
In Cambodia a massive fire broke out in the popular Genting Crown Casino located in Poipet, injuring several people. The fire is being linked to an electrical issue in one of the casino’s elevators.
MGM Resorts International is meanwhile, finding it difficult to get the approval of New York State Gaming Commission for their intended purchase of the Empire City Casino and its race track. The approval was supposed to come through at an official meeting by the regulator this week but the meeting was postponed at the last hour.
In another important update, former Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie has called out for state’s rights in sports betting markets. Addressing lawmakers in New Orleans recently Christie opposed the bi-partisan federal bill saying that he saw no need for it.
While the debate over the Federal Bill continues across the U.S., Spain’s state-owned lottery i.e. Sociedad Estatal Loterias y Apuestas del Estado (SELAE) has come under criticism after a 15-year old boy won a €200,000 jackpot.
The offshore casinos currently operating from River Mandovi in Panjim, Goa may yet be shifted to a land-based location. The state government of Goa has come out with a draft Tourism policy that envisions creation of an international gaming cluster and relocating the offshore casinos inland.
As per a Glaws report, the policy will be tabled before state MLAs in a meeting scheduled for January 16. The meeting will be chaired by State tourism minister, Manohar ‘Babu’ Ajgaonkar.
Apart from the relocation of the casinos, the draft Tourism policy also proposes a host of other measures like development of golf courses on a case-to-case basis, divesting the assets of Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC) and establishment of an supervisory body, Goa Tourism Board (GTB) to execute norms and regulations pertaining to the tourism industry.
Notably, chief minister of Goa, Manohar Parrikar had while addressing the state legislative assembly in August 2018, talked about a detailed casino policy. The policy contained proposal for shifting of offshore casinos to land, and appointing a Gaming Commissioner to regulate the casino industry. Later, in November the state agriculture minister Vijai Sardesai advocated development of a Hong-Kong style casino strip along the coastline in Panaji.
With the suggestions now included in the draft Tourism policy, looks like Goa is well on its way to explore the development of an inland casino industry. If the proposed international gaming cluster find votes of support in the ruling BJP-led coalition and the state legislative assembly, the state’s casinos may find a stable footing in the near future.
Japanese businessman and former CEO and Chairman of Tiger Resorts Leisure Entertainment Inc. (TRLEI), Kazuo Okada has been embroiled in controversy for several years now.
Back in December we had reported that a trial court in Manila, Philippines had rejected a petition by Okada to regain control of the Okada Manila casino resort that he had founded. Okada had, in a lawsuit filed in 2017, argued that he had been arbitrarily removed from his chair on ‘trumped up’ charges. However the court had dismissed Okada’s petition on grounds that it should have been filed within 15 days of his removal and was over the time limit.
In the latest, the Paranaque City Regional Trial Court branch 257 has issued an order directing the National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police to arrest Okada. The order was released on January 4. Issuing the warrant, Judge Rolando How said that Okada could seek bail at PHP 348,000 ($6,627) for the three charges pressed against him.
In his defense, Okada issued a statement to the press saying, “As owner of Okada Manila, it is absolutely absurd for me to ‘unlawfully take’ these salaries and fees. I was responsible for the investment of more than $2 billion in Okada Manila. How would I commit estafa against TRLEI and Okada Manila for a measly amount of salaries when I was the one who established and caused the rise and success of Okada Manila?”
The DoJ reacted to Okada’s statement, saying that his defense was now “appropriately matters of evidence to be proven in a full-blown trial.”
Notably, Okada had been arrested by Hong Kong authorities on the charges of corruption and swindling of company funds to the tune of $3.1 Million, levied by his former company, Universal Entertainment Corporation. The latest court order in Philippines shows that the Japanese business heavyweight has more legal trouble coming his way.
On January 7, a massive fire broke out at the Genting Crown Casino in Poipet, Cambodia resulting in several injuries. According to reports, the fire started due to an electrical problem in an elevator and began near the fourth floor of the 18-floor building before expanding quickly to the 13th floor. A total of 10 fire trucks (3 owned by casino) were needed to put out the fire.
According to the chief of police of the Nanteay Meanchey province, Major General Ath Khem, “No one died in the flames. However, six men got injured due to smoke inhalation when they got trapped in the [elevator].”
The six men included five Cambodians and one Chinese national and were sent to a local hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation.
Poipet is the main land crossing and transport center for those traveling between Bangkok and Siem Reap and due to its proximity with Thailand, is popular with Thai gamblers who can’t gamble in their own country.
The $850 Million deal for the purchase of Empire City Casino and race track in Yonkers, New York by MGM Resorts International was revealed last May and the meeting for regulator’s approval by New York State Gaming Commission (NYSGC) was recently postponed.
The meeting got delayed because the NYSGC was unable to get three of its five members needed for the quorum.
The Empire City Casino has over 5,000 slot machines and electronic gaming tables while the Yonkers race track has been in operation for over 100 years.
On the other hand, MGM announced that MGM executive Uri Clinton will play the role of president and COO of Empire City.
Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano recently said that their expectations include the addition of a new hotel and entertainment venue to the casino. Spano added that MGM was working with the Commission to schedule a new date for the meeting.
Last Friday, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie spoke at the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States Conference in New Orleans and said that he sees no need for the bi-partisan bill introduced last December by Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT). The American Gaming Association echoes the same sentiments towards federal regulation of the sports betting industry.
The bill being referred to i.e. Sports Wagering Market Integrity Act of 2018, would set up federal regulatory bodies to oversee the state-by-state sports betting markets, as well as create a National Sports Wagering Clearing house which will be used to compile data to track suspicious transactions and money laundering.
Christie stated that, “We do not need a federal solution to this problem. States have been regulating gambling for decades without incident.”
Last December, Sara Slane, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs of AGA had said, “This bill is the epitome of a solution in search of a problem, representing an unprecedented and inappropriate expansion of federal involvement in the gaming industry, which is currently one of the most strictly.”
Meanwhile, several major sports leagues are in favor of the bill and feel that the federal model is more efficient with just one set of rules to follow. Dan Spillane, Senior Vice President of the NBA said, “We don’t think this is an unreasonable ask, or something that’s going to cripple the industry.”
Spain’s state-owned Sociedad Estatal Loterías y Apuestas del Estado (SELAE) lottery recently got into trouble after a 15-year-old student named Cosmin Rotariu won a €200,000 jackpot in the El Niño lottery draw.
As per the rules, the players participating in lottery should be at least 18 years of age. Rotariu informed reporters that he purchased the ticket with the €20 he won in the El Gordo lottery before Christmas and that he had his father’s permission.
In the wake of the incident, Spain’s government is planning to limit the ability of private gambling operators to market their products with the same restrictions as those imposed on tobacco products.
CEJUEGO, the industry association that represents private gaming operators issued their official statement saying they will comment after learning the government’s “policy and priorities regarding minors” and will meet with officials at the Ministry of Finance.