Osaka puts IR plans on hold

by Noah Taylor Last Updated
Osaka and MGM to pair up for first Japanese integrated resort

Osaka prefecture said on Friday that a key phase in the city’s effort on a possible casino resort would be put back by three months.

GGR Asia reports the Osaka authorities have not however changed their timetable for opening a casino resort in the metropolis.

That remains as prior to the end of March 2027, the end of the country’s 2026-financial year, according to information collated by a GGR Asia correspondent.

According to Friday’s announcement, the deadline for Osaka’s request-for-proposal phase of its tilt at an integrated resort will be put back to July, compared to an earlier deadline of April.

Osaka city and prefecture are jointly leading the casino resort bid process.

The latest announcement meant that the Osaka authorities have now given up an ambition to get an integrated resort open in Osaka before the city hosts World Expo 2025.

In December, Osaka’s mayor, Ichiro Matsui said it was likely that a casino resort could only be opened in that city in 2026.

Osaka is due to host the expo on Yumeshima – the same artificial island in Osaka Bay that has been earmarked for the metropolis’ casino resort – from April 13 to October 13 in 2025.

It was announced last week that Japan would postpone until 2021, the summer Olympic Games which it was due to host in Tokyo this summer, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to Friday’s announcement, the date for appointing the private-sector partner for Osaka’s integrated resort tilt has been moved back to September, from an originally planned June announcement.

In February, the Osaka authorities said the only qualified applicant for its RFP phase was a consortium consisting of United States-based casino operator MGM Resorts International and Japanese financial services group Orix Corp.

Local governments wishing to host a casino resort will need to apply to the central authorities for the right to have one.

A maximum of three resorts will be permitted in a first phase of liberalisation.

According to information collated by GGR Asia’s correspondent, Osaka’s revised timetable assumes the national government will maintain its January to July 2021 application period for local governments.

Reports of Osaka’s timetable revision did not specify reasons for the move.

The news coincided however with the spread within Japan of the novel coronavirus.

According to a website from Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare dedicated to the coronavirus outbreak as it has affected that nation, as of Monday morning, Osaka prefecture had 184 confirmed cases of Covid-19 infection, out of the country’s 1420 confirmed cases.

Osaka and MGM to pair up for first Japanese integrated resort

After plenty of speculation, analysis and controversy, Osaka has made their big decision as to which casino operator will be their integrated resort partner.

Calvin Ayre reports that Osaka made the announcement on Friday that MGM Resorts is their preferred partner, via a post on their website.

While the announcement names two parties, MGM and the Orix Consortium, the two groups are working together.

This means MGM has lasted the gauntlet of a half a dozen other challengers.

In May, the city’s mayor Ichiro Matsui noted that the city was also considering partnering with Galaxy Entertainment Group, Genting Singapore, Las Vegas Sands, Melco Resorts and Entertainment, Wynn Resorts and an “Osaka local alliance.”

It became clear that of those on the list, MGM was the top choice.

They were the only operator making promises to hit a 2025 grand opening, an important date for Osaka as that’s the year they will host the World Expo.

The summer of 2019 saw both Las Vegas Sands and Melco Resorts drop out of contention, with Fitch Ratings declaring MGM the clear favourite shortly after.

The choice became even clearer in October, when Wynn Resorts also dropped out of consideration.

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