Philippine gambling law authorities as well as other lawmakers are investigating the Philippine Amusement Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) and its mega Entertainment City project.
Philippines gambling news reported about alleged underhanded deals between former Pagcor chief and Japanese casino tycoon Kazuo Okada’s Universal Entertainment. Okada holds one of the four Entertainment City casino licenses from Pagcor.
According to the accusations, former Pagcor chief Efraim Genuino and his deputy Rodolfo Soriano both allegedly received bribes from Okada, namely $5 million from Azure USA, Universal Entertainment’s Nevada-registered subsidiary. As a result, several senators are calling for the immediate halt of Entertainment City project.
The weak physical foundation on which the mega resort is to be built is already is a problem in itself. On top of the dangerous building conditions, an accusation of corruption seems to be enough for widespread support from Philippine politicians to stop the project.
Voices in the Filipino lawmaking say that corruption may have reached the current Pagcor management, influencing both land based and online casinos in Philippines.
Current Pagcor CEO Cristino Naguiat received so-called gifts from Okada during their Macau trip last year. One critic of the management commented: “We are dealing with billions of public funds and Pagcor’s dealings regarding the Entertainment City are very shady to say the least.”
Renato Reyes Jr., secretary general of the multi-sector alliance Bayan has approached Philippine president Benigno Aquino III to ask for a cancellation of Okada’s casino license.
Reyes Jr. emphasized: “The deal with Okada obviously stinks, and the stench of corruption is now coming out.”
Reyes Jr. added: “With so many allegations of anomalies surrounding this deal, it is strange that, up to now, Pres. Aquino has not made any effort to cancel Okada’s provisional license. Neither has Aquino’s classmate, current Pagcor chair Naguiat done anything to end this apparently anomalous deal tainted with violations of Philippine gambling laws.”
The pressure is clearly growing on Philippine lawmakers to bring out the truth about the dubious dealings around Pagcor and its Entertainment City. There will surely be more to follow.