Thu, Aug 6, 8:52am by Ethan Anderson
A leading contender for a Japanese integrated resort licence has closed its Yokohama office after the country announce it would delay its decision due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Japan Times reports that Wynn Resorts’ Yokohama office closure shouldn’t be taken to mean they aren’t interested in the project.
“The pandemic is having an unprecedented negative impact on integrated resort development, and resort companies such as Wynn are considering how we evolve our operations to align with a post-pandemic market,” the company said on Sunday.
“Long-term, we remain interested in the Japan integrated resort market and will monitor the situation closely.”
Wynn has been pursuing a casino in Japan for years.
The country had been considered one of the top prizes in the industry, given Japan’s population and wealth.
Japanese legislators approved the country’s first Vegas-style casino developments, known as integrated resorts, but none have yet been built.
A decision to focus on the US market prompted Caesars Entertainment to end its pursuit of a Japanese casino last year.
Las Vegas Sands Corp said in May it was also pulling out of the race, citing high tax rates, unfavourable terms and the cost of building, which many have put at $10 billion.
MGM Resorts International, the lone remaining bidder for a casino in Osaka, said last week it will continue to pursue the project, despite delays that could last until next year.
The COVID-19 shut down much of the world’s casinos this year and Wynn’s resorts in Macau, Las Vegas and Boston are still experiencing sluggish demand.
Wynn furloughed a number of employees in Las Vegas last month because business was not coming back as quickly as it had hoped.
Wynn closes Yokohama office, remains interested in IR market https://t.co/61EBMeWYMN
— Yogonet News (@YogonetNews) August 3, 2020
Japanese police in Saitama Prefecture have arrested 18 people in association with an illegal gambling operation.
Gambling Insider reported in June that Tomohiro Hanaya, the 50-year-old manager of the gaming facility, has been arrested in addition to his 12 employees, under suspicion of hosting baccarat games with customers playing for money.
Five customers have also been arrested in the raid for betting with cash.
Police searched the property for around six hours and confiscated four baccarat tables, a number of player card decks and $114,285 in cash.
One customer reportedly told police they had intended to make money after losing their job as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The illegal casino was active 24/7 for at least a year and took in around 10 customers on a typical day during the pandemic.
During the pandemic, Japanese police have conducted raised of a number of illegal gambling operations across the country.
Last month, Aichi Prefectural police arrested 23 workers and customers at a casino in Nagoya on suspicion of illegal gambling.
The Brisbane Times reported in January that Melco’s offices in Tokyo were raided between January 17 and 20.
The raids came just days after Tokyo prosecutors arrested Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker Tsukasa Akimoto on suspicion of accepting bribes from Chinese gambling group, 500.com.
Mr Akimoto, who is in detention, has denied any wrongdoing.
Melco and 500.com are both among the gambling groups bidding for the rights to build three integrated casino resorts in Japan.
Melco established a Japanese local entity and offices in Tokyo, Osaka and Yokohama and submitted IR concepts to multiple local municipalities as part of its application process.
Mr Akimoto had played a central role in crafting government policy for the casino resorts.
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