Miss Universe 2016 Pia Wurtzbach and Chairman Okada of Okada hotels pose for the cameras at the SMX in Pasay City. (Photo : Getty Images)
A gambling tycoon wants to transform the Philippines into a country of leisure and entertainment resort for wealthy citizens of nearby nations.
Kazuo Okada, a Japanese billionaire, is on a quest to overhaul the Southeast Asian island country into a marquee vacation hotbed for countries like China, Taiwan, Korea and Japan. He recently opened Okada Manila, a resort on the Entertainment City district of Manila.
He said that he wants to make the Philippines "the next Hawaii." This is a reference on how the U.S. state is largely seen as a retreat destination for mainland Americans.
The revenue of the resort has been strong during its first quarter run, which leads Okada to reveal that he has plans on constructing three additional casinos in the area for the coming years.
Manila's Entertainment City is the Las Vegas version of the country and currently houses three casinos. This includes Solaire Resort, City of Dreams Manila and Okada Manila. Resorts World is expected to be the fourth gambling and hospitality establishment in the area in 2018.
The Entertainment City is owned and operated by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation.
There are plenty of variables though to consider when it comes to the plan of Okada. A slew of potential hurdles stands in the way of Okada and other casino companies that are trying to infiltrate budding Asian markets.
Rodrigo Duterte, the current President of the Philippines, is one of the most unstable political leaders in the world. Although he recently eased his assault on illegal gambling enterprises, he still considers the practice of betting as a "social menace."
As it is still unclear on what are the next steps of China and Japan with regards to gambling, major casino players like Las Vegas Sands, Wynn Resorts and MGM are patiently waiting before proceeding expansion to both countries and the Philippines.