|Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Japan
|81 YEARS OLD
Kazuo Okada, a prominent figure in the gaming industry in Japan, is estimated to have a net worth of $1.3 billion by 2024. With a successful career spanning several decades, Okada has made significant contributions to the development and expansion of the gaming industry in Japan. Having founded and served as the former chairman of Universal Entertainment Corporation, Okada's ventures in the gaming sector have propelled his wealth to new heights. His immense knowledge and strategic approach to business have earned him both recognition and financial success, cementing his position as one of the leading figures in the gaming world.
Kazuo Okada was born in 1942 during the Second World War. Having lost his Father at a young age, he became independent and supported his family. He studied at an engineering vocational school to take advantage of his interest and passion for mechanics. An Engineer at heart, Okada found tinkering with vacuum tubes (a basic component of early radios and televisions) "so much fun".
In late 1969, Okada's first visit to Las Vegas led to his decision to enter the Business of slot machine Manufacturing. He invented the "near-miss" feature in his slot machines, an innovation that helped expand the Japanese market of "pachislot" (a Hybrid of Japan’s pachinko and Las Vegas slot machines) and also made Okada's slot machines popular in Las Vegas.
Throughout the 1990s, Universal served as a major supplier of machines to the bustling Japanese pachinko industry.
In 2000, Okada was introduced to Las Vegas-based casino magnate Steve Wynn, eventually investing $380 million in Wynn’s then-new company, Wynn Resorts.
Wynn Resorts opened its first casino in 2005 in Las Vegas and a second one in 2006 in Macau. In 2008, Steve Wynn declined to join Okada in a major investment to build a casino in Entertainment City in Manila. Okada proceeded alone with the investment, forming a local company, Tiger Resort, Leisure and Entertainment, Inc., to handle the development of the Manila property. In July 2016, the said property was unveiled as the Okada Manila, a $2.4 billion integrated hotel, resort and casino that represents Okada’s biggest investment to date.
With his local partner, Antonio Cojuangco, Okada expects to open the integrated resort before 2016 ends. With the December 2016 legislation allowing for 'bona fide' gambling in Japan, Okada is expected to be a major bidder for a casino license along with former partner Wynn and Sands Group.