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Osaka casino down to three bidders

Wed, Sep 25, 8:03am by Staff Writer

The race for the development of an integrated resort in the Japanese city of Osaka has narrowed to just three bidders.

Casino News Daily reports that MGM Resorts International, Galaxy Entertainment Group and Genting Singapore are the three in the running.

According to reports from Japanese media outlets, the above-mentioned three companies have submitted a request for concept proposal for the development of a resort with dedicated casino space.

Japan legalised casino gambling in 2016 and authorised the construction of up to three integrated resorts with gaming floors to create a market some analysts believe could annually see $20 billion in gaming revenue.

Osaka has long been considered the front runner in the casino race due to the large number of international visitors the city welcomes every year, as well as the strong local political support the potential development of a gaming resort has seen.

Analysts also believe that Yokohama, Nagasaki, Wakayama, and event Japan’s capital Tokyo could be selected as hosts to the country’s first three integrated resorts.

Yokohama recently joined officially the casino race, with the city’s mayor Fumiko Hayashi, saying that they need an integrated resort in order to “achieve growth and development.”

Up until recently, Osaka was favoured by a number of major international developers in their plans to build a resort and tap into Japan’s nascent casino market.

However, that changed quickly with Yokohama’s announcement that it would look to host one of the three gaming complexes.

Yokohama is Japan’s second largest city, a major port that sits juts south of Tokyo.

Over the years, a number of major gaming and hospitality operators have shown strong interest in bringing integrated resort experiences to Osaka.

Yokohama joins the fold

With Yokohama joining the race, some of them abandoned their Osaka plans and focused their attention to the other city.

Las Vegas Sands, the gaming and hospitality powerhouse led by mogul Sheldon Adelson, was the first to announce its withdrawal from the Osaka casino race.

The company said last month that it would no longer pursue development opportunities in the city and that it would instead focus its efforts on obtaining permits to develop an integrated resort in Yokohama.

Las Vegas Sands already boasts strong Asian presence with properties in Macau and Singapore.

Just days ago, Melco Resorts & Entertainment announced a ‘Yokohama First’ strategy, saying that the city has “convenient location, communication links, vibrancy, and pioneering spirit” and is “an ideal candidate for a large-scale development designed specifically for premium international tourists.”

Melco, too, has decided to drop its Osaka bid and to focus its undivided attention on winning the Yokohama race.

Caesars Entertainment Corp, which too was previously interested in Osaka, recently dropped its plans to pursue a gaming licence in Japan, citing its merger with Reno, Nevada-based gaming and hospitality company Eldorado Resorts as the main reason for its decision.

Wynn Resorts was another major company previously believed to be interested in the Osaka opportunity.

Earlier this month, Chris Gordon, president of Wynn Resorts Development Japan, said that they plan to build the world’s largest casino property in Osaka and that if the company wins a gaming licence, its property would spread across between two and three million square feet.

However, the company was not cited as a potential Osaka casino bidder by local media in recent reports.

Last month, MGM Resorts International issued a statement to reaffirm its commitment to Osaka as their preferred host to a gaming resort.

The company’s chief executive officer Jim Murren said in a statement that they plan to “bring world class entertainment, exciting cultural events, convention expertise, and premium dining and retail experiences that will have broad appeal both nationally and internationally.”

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