Universal Entertainment which is led by Japanese tycoon Kazuo Okada recently confirmed that their $2.4 billion Okada Manila casino resort in the Philippines will open before the end of December 2016. The multi-billion dollar casino which is located in Manila’s Entertainment City was initially scheduled to open in 2015 but received an extension deadline from gaming regulator Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor).

Okada Manila is located on a 44 hectare plot and Phase 1 of the casino resort covers 22 hectares. In October, Universal Entertainment confirmed that it had raised $400 million in funding which was sufficient to complete Phase 1 of the project. While Okada Manila is yet to confirm an opening date for the casino resort, Reuters news agency has quoted Pagcor head Andrea Domingo as saying that Phase 1 will open to the public on December 21.

When the Okada Manila casino resort opens to the public, it will become the largest casino resort in the Philippines and one of the top casino destinations in all of Asia. Phase 1 of the project involves the opening of the casino, a hotel, restaurants, retail outlets and conference rooms. The casino resort will also be home to Asia’s first beach club that will be able to accommodate up to 4,500 people. Okada Manila will also have a dancing water fountain that is in many ways similar to the Bellagio fountains in Las Vegas and cover approximately 37,464 square metres which is the equivalent to 50 Olympic size swimming pools.

Miurashin Architect + Associates, a construction firm based out of Japan spearheaded the construction of the Phase 1 development and employed up to 19,000 workers during this time. Okada Manila is also the most expensive casino project that Universal Entertainment has undertaken till date and Chairman Kazuo Okada stated that this $2.4 billion casino resort was his gift to the people of the Philippines. The casino resort is expected to help boost tourism numbers in the country and has expressed interest to host the 2017 Miss Universe pageant.

In a statement, Steve Wolstenholme, Okada Manila President said “We expect to see Manila as a top tourist destination and I think our property will help do that, together with many of the other things that are happening in the region as well. We also anticipate our property to be iconic, and I think there is a yearning for an iconic property in Manila.”

The casino resort will have a total of 3,000 electronic gaming machines, 500 table games and two Y shaped hotel towers. The casino which is located very close to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) is reported to be hiring up to 8,000 Filipinos. The Okada Manila casino will become the third casino to open in Manila’s Entertainment City and will join the City of Dreams and the Solaire Casino.