With investigative report’s damning findings, ongoing Okada scandal continuesBy John L. Smith, CDC Gaming ReportsSeptember 12, 2017 at 9:30 pm It occurs to me lately that I may be taking the ongoing scandal involving Japanese billionaire gaming machine king Kazuo Okada too seriously.With Okada’s forced removal from the board of directors of Universal Entertainment, Inc. and its Manila casino subsidiary after suspicions of loan fraud from inside the corporation, the slot machine king would appear to be made to order for a Nevada Gaming Control Board disciplinary hearing. The control board, long touted as the regulatory gold standard in the casino business, reiterated to GGRAsia.com this past week that its investigation of Okada was continuing. It’s something Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnett acknowledged in an interview earlier this year. Apparently time is on Nevada’s side.The control board doesn’t elaborate on active investigations, but its agents will have to work to keep up with Universal’s own investigation into Okada’s apparently shady insider dealings. GGRAsia says the corporation’s official investigative report, which it submitted in a recent stock filing, found Okada and a company associate made three improper, unethical and probably illegal loans from the company. The company called the exposed transactions worth millions “fraudulent.”Which, from my outsider’s perspective, seems pretty serious. But maybe I’m just the nervous type, this seems like a pretty good time for Nevada regulators to call in the cavalry.As reported by GGRAsia, the corporation’s investigation concluded Okada, “committed these acts for his own personal benefit, and it can only be said that this is an extreme intermingling of private and public affairs and that there was a lack of a sense of ethics that one should naturally have as a director of a listed company.”Okada’s fall from the pinnacle of an industry in which just a few years ago he held great power and credibility is becoming the stuff of legend. It’s all the more incredible because of the speed with which it’s occurred.We’re not talking about your run-of-the-mill casino land vice president with an MBA. Okada is a hard-driving business warrior who founded Universal and took it from the smoky pachinko parlors of Tokyo to the top of the casino industry. He parlayed his wealth and status and, against what some might have considered formidable odds, managed to secure a place of licensed legitimacy as a founder and substantial financial backer of the reincarnation of Steve Wynn’s casino company, Wynn Resorts, Ltd.An arrangement that once appeared a match made in gaming heaven turned to salt in 2012 when the feud between the two men went public. Wynn’s ire focused on Okada’s insistence, some would say obsession, with developing a mega-casino in the Philippines, a jurisdiction not exactly known for its upstanding regulation.It’s been reported by Reuters and other news outlets that Okada was suspected of attempting to buy his way into the good graces of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, which oversees the nation’s burgeoning casino action. For his part, Okada has maintained he did nothing wrong either in Las Vegas or the Philippines. But now even his own board of directors disagrees.Okada reportedly controls more than two-thirds of Universal’s stock, but holds not even a busboy’s position in the company and can’t go anywhere near its board of directors. Despite having such an role in the development of Wynn Resorts, he’s on the outside looking in there, too.One development to come to light with Universal’s investigation is the activity of Okada’s reputed accomplice in the suspected loan fraud, former director and general manager of the administrative division Yoshinao Negishi.Talk about the gift of understatement. When a powerful fellow raised in the pachinko racket comes to an underling’s house to, as the report notes, “violently intimidate and threaten him” to participate in a multimillion-dollar loan fraud, it would certainly qualify as “a serious violation of governance.” From the sound of things, some people might easily conclude that more than Negishi’s career was at stake.Okada’s attorneys continue to fight on multiple fronts, but with its reputation and stock value at stake Universal has drawn a hard line. When the company you’ve founded pays to investigate your own activities, consider yourself smacked down.With all that going on, perhaps Nevada’s gaming regulators needn’t hurry to put out this dumpster fire even as Okada’s battle with Wynn continues to draw international media interest at district court.His credibility in a smoking heap and the flames still rising, I’m left wondering whether anyone in Okada’s inner circle mentions that perceptions still matter in the gaming industry.John L. Smith is a longtime Las Vegas journalist and author. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @jlnevadasmith.