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Melco Crown will go all-in on Japanese casino investment

Sat, Feb 25, 8:20am by Senior Writer

Asian casino giants Melco Crown have pushed their chips ‘all-in’ on the Japanese casino industry, pledging to do whatever it takes to succeed in the country after casino gambling was legalised late last year.

The battle for one of the integrated casino resort licenses in Japan has intensified with all of the major global casino powers indicating they want to be part of the biggest expansion market in gambling in a generation.

Estimations of the size of the potential Japanese casino industry vary from $10 billion to $40 billion per year, but it is likely to become one of the top 2-3 casino territories in the world.

Melco Crown, which is Nasdaq listed and already operates casinos in Macau and Manila, has targeted the city of Osaka as the site for its intended casino resort in Japan.

Billionaire Lawrence Ho, chairman and chief executive of Melco Crown, confirmed his company hope to build a resort in either the central Umekita district of the city or on the man-made Yumeshima Island in Osaka Bay.

“Melco Crown Entertainment Limited has always had a keen interest in Japan,” Ho said. “Indeed, I personally, together with my executive management team, have been closely looking at this market for over a decade. We are thrilled by the active approach of the Japanese government on the recently-passed integrated resort legislation.”

Having already legalised gambling, the Japanese parliament needs to pass further legislation to determine the process for the awarding of licences this year. There are likely to just three licenses awarded.

“Melco Crown Entertainment Limited’s integrated resort properties and facilities have always been the pride of the cities where we operate,” Ho said.

“Our commitment in Japan is for the long term.”

“Melco Crown Entertainment Limited is excited and honored to have the opportunity to take part in this transformational moment for Japan. We are determined to work with the Japanese government and local partners and communities to create the city’s first integrated resort [and deliver] long-lasting benefits to Japan.”

“As I have said, there currently is no predetermined cap on our intended investment in Japan [as] our focus is on uniqueness, great design and world-class entertainment offerings. I prefer not to constrain our dreams, ambitions, passion and commitment in Japan with price tags, particularly at this early stage.”

“With our unsurpassed track record of developing and operating highly sophisticated and truly unique integrated resorts around the world, I am confident that Melco Crown Entertainment Limited’s ultimate vision will support the government’s aspirations for an integrated resort that is unique to Japan and delights its people as well as drawing tourists from around the world.”

Melco Crown was formed via a joint-venture between Ho’s Melco company and James Packer’s Crown Resorts in 2004.

However, Crown confirmed late last year they were exiting the joint venture and selling down their 27 per cent stake in Melco Crown with an increased focus on its Australian markets.

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