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MGM to sponsor MLB games in Japan

Wed, Feb 27, 9:45am by Staff Writer

Casino giant MGM Resorts International is capitalising on the Japanese governments recent legalisation of casino gambling by becoming the title sponsor of Major League Baseball’s Japan games.

American’s biggest baseball league will hold a series in Japan next months, with players to wear patches on their uniforms promoting MGM Resorts International.

The move allows MGM to promote itself in the Japanese market after Japan legalised casino gambling last year.

As part of the sponsorship deal, the Oakland Athletics will wear MGM patches during their games against the Seattle Mariners at the Tokyo Dome on March 20 and 21, according to Bloomberg.

The terms of the agreement with baseball and its players union, a separate addition to the marketing partnership that the MLB and MGM signed last November weren’t released.

MGM has been laying the groundwork to target Japan’s gambling industry, according to chairman Jim Murren.

“It will be highly competitive. But I think the cards are stacked in the favour of those who are prepared, who have been working hard,” Mr Murren said.

Baseball’s international games are the only time teams are allowed to wear advertising patches on their jerseys – a practice that is customary in overseas leagues.

The last time the league opened its season in Japan, in 2012, players wore patches from sponsors Boeing and online games platform Gloops.

The MGM patches also show how far Major League Basketball has come in embracing the growing world of sports gambling.

Twelve months ago, baseball was among the major plaintiffs in a lawsuit aimed at preventing the spread of legal sports gambling beyond Nevada.

Since then, the organisation has signed MGM as its first leaguewide sports betting partner.

Company’s eager to enter Japanese market

Japanese lawmakers enacted controversial legislation legalising gambling resorts after a near two-decade long process.

On July 20, 2018, the “integrated resorts” law was passed, offering casinos along with hotels, entertainment and conference facilities.

The legislation creates a framework for the operation of casino resorts, following up on the integrated-resort promotion law of December 2016.

An initial three casino licenses will be issued with a 30 per cent gaming tax to be paid to the central and local governments.

Gaming areas are limited to three per cent of less of the total resort floor space.

Entry will be free to international visitors but cost US$50 for residents of Japan, who will also be limited to three visits a week and 10 per month.

Following this legislation and talks of an official bidding process for destination cities being imminent, policies have been announced for how gambling operators will be allowed to advertise in Japan.

All advertisements for casino activity will only be allowed in the international terminals of the country’s airports and seaports.

Locations such as railways, buses and tourist information centres are strictly off limits to gambling ads.

MGM and rivals Wynn Resorts and Las Vegas Sands have long had a presence in Japan and will be jockeying for one of the first three licenses to be granted.

Hard Rock International announced an elaborate plan for a casino resort in the city of Tomakomai in January.

In a January 11 press release, Hard Rock detailed their plans that include monorail access to the airport, a guitar-shaped hotel tower, an additional Four Seasons hotel, an entertainment venue, theatres, a health and wellbeing centre and more than 215,000 square feet of retail and dining space.

There will be a focus on an authentic Ainu village experience, with the Ainu people being a local indigenous population.

Hard Rock has also announced a number of key partnerships with prominent global brands.


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