MGM partnership the lone applicant for Osaka integrated resort

by Charlotte Lee Last Updated
MGM China committed to Macau

The Japanese casino bidding process continues in earnest, however MGM is still the lone wolf vying for a licence in Osaka.

Casino.org reports the Osaka Prefecture government announced that April 6 was the deadline for companies to submit a bid on an integrated resort in Japan’s third largest city.

That deadline has come and gone, with MGM Resorts International and partner Orix remaining as the lone party interested in bringing a gaming venue to the city.

Osaka officials previously said other consortiums could enter the fray up to the April 6 deadline.

But local leaders didn’t overtly woo other gaming companies.

That could be a sign authorities there are pleased with the MGM-Orix proposal and ready to move forward.

Orix, a Japanese financial services firm, is slated to be the majority partner.

That defrays some of the costs MGM would encounter if going it alone in Japan.

It also limits the gaming giant’s potential upside in the country.

The company uses a similar structure in Macau, where it controls 56 per cent of its MGM China unit, which was founded by Pansy Ho.

The MGM-Orix group has long been viewed as the leader in the Osaka integrated resort competition, mainly because it’s long been the only contender.

Previously, Asia-Pacific gaming behemoths Galaxy Entertainment and Genting Singapore expressed interest in the Japanese city.

But in early 2020, both operators were out of the Osaka race, instead opting to focus on Yokohama.

Next steps for Osaka bid remains up in the air

While it’s clear MGM-Orix has the Osaka field to itself, that’s not a guarantee of ultimate success.

After the Japanese cities wanting to be homes to gaming venues select operator partners, the next step is to bring proposals to the federal government.

From there, officials will grant three gaming permits, and it’s not clear where Osaka falls in that pecking order.

The city faces credible challenges from Yokohama and Nagasaki.

Operators and local officials alike could be thrown curveballs if Tokyo decides to enter the mix.

There’s some speculation to that effect, with analysts saying the largest Japanese city could mull an integrated resort after it hosts the Summer Olympics in late 2021.

Tokyo entering the competition could lure companies that previously scrapped Japan plans back to the party.

It could also affect Yokohama more than other competing areas.

For its part, MGM has long been intent on bringing a casino-resort to Osaka and now it’s simply a matter of the city getting approval to host such a venue.

Japan lists nine casino games for future casinos

Nine casino games have been permitted to operate inside Japan’s three future casinos.

Inside Asian Gaming reported in April that Japan’s Casino Regulatory Commission has approved nine games, with traditional Japanese favourites such as pachinko, pachislot and mahjong notable exclusions.

The nine games within the draft regulations, published last Friday, include 21 variants of games currently banned in Japan, but set to be legalised as part of the government’s integrated resort plans.

The nine games are two types of baccarat, four types of blackjack, eight types of poker, Sic Bo, craps, Casino War, money wheel and pai gow, plus electronic games.

Public feedback on the draft regulations will be accepted until May 9, after which time final casino regulations will be decided.

The regulations also call for prior background checks on all major stakeholders and executives of casino and integrated resort operators to ensure “social credibility”.

This will include detailed investigations into criminal and financial records, as well as whether there are any links to organised crime.

As a measure against problem gambling, casino operators will be expected to ban users suspected of addiction for at least one year and later limit the number of casino visits they are allowed to make each month.

Operators will be required to establish a consultation desk for anyone wanting to discuss gambling addiction.

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