Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

March 9, 2012

Okada Makes a Promise

Posted by daveschwartz

Before the recent flurry of legal activity involving Kazuo Okada and Steve Wynn, the Japanese billionaire had a reputation as a bit of a mystery man. But back in 1988, he was at the forefront of Universal Company's U.S. ad blitz. After the jump, see an ad from the February 1988 issue of Casino Gaming magazine that puts Mr. Okada front and center.

It's more of a advertorial than a traditional manufacturer's ad. You don't usually see text like this in slot company ads:

Mr. Okada stepped forward cordially, smiling as he welcomed member of the Nevada Gaming Control Board into his Tokyo office in the summer of 1983.

The Members of the Nevada delegation were curious. They had come to see--first hand--the man whose impact on the casino industry in general and their state in particular already was considerable...

After the ceremonial handshakes and polite conversation, the subject turned to casinos. Okada asked the Nevadans to tell him their major slot machine problem. The visitors quickly pinpointed counterfeit tokens, slugs, foreign coins, and other devices used by slot cheats.

As they spoke, Okada's keen business mind nimbly projected the problem on a worldwide scale. What he saw in that brief flash of insight stunned him.

Okada rose. Folding his hands peacefully behind his back he spoke in slow, measured tones.

"I will fix your problem," he told the suddenly silent Nevada delegation. You have my word on it"

Okada's pledge to the Nevadans was the thin edge of the wedge. It brought drama and purpose to the situation. It made the solving of the problem not just a project--but a crusade....

"There was never any doubt," explained one of Okada's top aides. "Mr. Okada gave his word to the Americans, and in my country a promise does not mean you will try. It means that you will do.

It has taken five years of tough, relentless research and countless man hours, but in mid-1988 Universal will unveil the first microprocessor-based coin acceptor.


Reading this, it occurred to me that Okada wasn't the kind of guy who'd read through legalese in a contract. Personal relationships are obviously very important to him and, as the ad points out, there's a cultural component to this.

Fascinating reading.


Read archived comments (2 so far)
March 10, 2012 5:38 AM Posted by Arthur

I would like to add some comments to this article. You are absolutely right in the regard that Okada views personal relationships as extremely important. In an article to Bloomberg, Okada states:

“I believe that business by nature is about trust, contracts are a last resort,” Okada said. “That may be a difference between Western and Asian countries.”

It would seem that "trust" in a partnership or a relationship is a central part in that element. From reading this advertisement and then reading the article from Bloomberg, it seems that he feels betrayed or backstabbed by Wynn as the "trust" between them has been completely severed.

Being an Asian myself, many of us still regard trust and honor as an extremely important element in our character. Trust and loyalty is what defines a person's values and morals. For Okada, it would seem that he does not view Wynn the same ever again.

Obviously, I do not think that Okada even read the Articles of Incorporation, or the Shareholder's Agreement with Wynn, or anything that is considered a contract, because in his view, Wynn would never betray or backstab him, so he would blindly sign anything Wynn Resorts presented him to sign, thinking, and trusting, that Wynn Resorts would never do anything to him.

The Macau and Asian market now consists of about 70% of Wynn Resorts' total revenues, I suggest they should study the value system of the region that they operate in a little bit more.

*This is not to suggest that Okada did not do anything wrong, or that Wynn is at fault. But rather, to present the Japanese people's character-based morals and how Okada must feel that Wynn betrayed him.
Bloomberg article:

March 10, 2012 9:12 AM Posted by Paolo

This is all kinds of awesome. Thanks for sharing, Dr. Dave.