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Japan integrated resort bids heat up

Fri, Sep 6, 11:56am by Staff Writer

Since the enactment of law in July 2018 legalising casino gambling in Japan, large resort operators from the United States have been boosting public relations efforts as they plan bids to enter the market.

Japan Times reports that with the law set to allow up to three coveted gaming licences for the development of casino resorts around the country, a potential market that some project twill hit $18 billion a year, gambling giants like Wynn Resorts and MGM Resorts International are staking their chips on what they hope will be a big payout.

Although expectations are high for substantial economic gains, including job creations, there is widespread public concern that gambling addition and negative social impacts will rise.

At a news conference for the Japanese media in a Boston suburb on July 24, Wynn Resorts Development Japan president Chris Gordon spoke at length of the company’s desire to build the “world’s largest” integrated resort in a city such as Tokyo, Osaka or Yokohama.

The term integrated resort refers to a comprehensive entertainment complex that, alongside casinos, attaches shopping malls, theatres, hotels and theme parks.

The sites for the three integrated resorts are expected to be chosen by next year, at the earliest.

Wynn Resorts wants its place in Japan

One of the biggest components of an integrated resort envisioned by Wynn Resorts would be opening its doors to organisers of meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions or events, as Gordon said.

To address the public concerns linked to gambling when it opened its latest US resort – the $2.6 billion Encore Boston Harbour in Everett, Massachusetts on June 23 – Wynn Resorts hired 20 additional local police officers, Gordon said.

It also spent some $65 million on road improvements for the area around the 133-acre property, which provided public access to the waterfront for the first time in more than a century.

Gordon was also keen to note that the casino project got the nod from a major academic district just 6.5 kilometres away that includes Harvard University.

In June, the integrated resort promotion bureau in Osaka and the city of Osaka announced that seven casinos were vying against each other after sending in early request-for-concept documents to win the Osaka gaming licence and start operating in the mid-2020s.

Among the casino giants that have made pitches in Osaka were Wynn Resorts, Las Vegas Sands Corp, and MGM Resorts International, which has teamed up with the financial conglomerate Orix Corp.

Of the non-US entrants, Hong-Kong based Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd and Genting Singapore Ltd are also said to be in the running, while two other companies have not made their bids or concepts public.

Las Vegas Sands recently dropped out of the Osaka race, saying it will instead focus on developing a resort in the Tokyo and Yokohama areas.

MGM committed to Osaka

MGM Resorts’ chief executive Jim Murren said his company “remains deeply committed” to developing a casino resort in Osaka.

Wynn Resorts’ Gordon said that if the company gets the green light, it will put all its energies into its Japanese resort – whether in Osaka or elsewhere.

‘The whole company, president, vice president, all the staff, will be focused on how to do that right. I think one of our real differentiators is how we really focus on the quality of every part,” Gordon told reporters.

Osaka has projected a 1.96 trillion yen total economic benefit from the casino resort’s overall development and business operations, effective tax revenues of 250 billion yen per year and employment opportunities for 97,000 people, according to a 2017 prefectural report.

Gordon said Japan’s plans to boost tourism ahead of the 2020 Olympics and beyond is what makes it an attractive market for a casino resort.

The government has targeted 40 million tourists by next year and a long-term goal of 60 million by 2030, establishing tourism as a key growth sector.


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