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Yokohama not sold on a future casino

Wed, Jul 3, 2:21pm by Staff Writer

The Yokohama Port Harbour Resort Association, a new group based at Yamashita Pier made up of business operators in the bay, held a founding meeting in Yokohama on Monday where it announced a redevelopment plan that does not include a casino.

Asgam is reporting the redevelopment would boast an international exhibition hall and luxury hotel, while an F1 racing circuit track is also scheduled.

The total investment is expected to be 780 billion Japanese Yen, according to the Nikkei.

The association’s redevelopment aims to be a MICE bid with an international conference and exhibition hall as its focus.

Annual profit is forecast to be JPY45 billion with a concert hall and a harbour for cruise boats as part of the facility.

Whatever the calculations behind those numbers are, there is an emphasis that this can be a profitable facility without the casino element.

The presentation was addressed to Yokohama mayor Fumiko Hayashi and titled “Opinions and hopes for Yamashita Pier redevelopment.”

The documentation included the line, “We have grave misgivings surround the casino business and the redevelopment of Yamashita Pier.”

The Yokohama Port Association, chaired by Yukio Fujiki, comprises 244 port operators in Yokohama.

Osaka will be the home of Japan’s first IR

The Japanese city of Osaka is in the box seat to be the first to develop an integrated resort in the country, according to Forbes.

None of Japan’s other larger metropolitan areas have entered the competition for an integrated resort licence, so Osaka stands alone.

Under the licencing process, local jurisdictions will nominate a single consortium for the national government to consider for a licence.

It is now imperative for casino operators and their partners to be able to convince local authorities that they are their best choices.

As Osaka launches its selection process, expect extraordinary competition among at least a half-dozen of the biggest names in gaming, and in this beauty contest, second place won’t even get a bouquet.

“For a successful development, you need a number of things to align: a sufficient population base, including tourists, to feed customers, infrastructure and political support,” MGM Japan CEO Ed Bowers says.

“Osaka has consistently said it wanted integrated resorts. In all jurisdictions across the world, if you don’t get political support, it is extremely difficult for IR development to be successful,” he said.

In January, MGM declared as “Osaka First” strategy and in March, confirmed a partnership with Japanese financial services giant Orix.

The Tokyo-Yokohama metropolitan dwarfs other metropolitan areas with 37 million people, nearly 30 per cent of Japan’s 126 million residents.

But Tokyo remains preoccupied with next year’s Olympics and Yokohama has a festering rift between port operators opposing an integrated resort on Yamashita Pier, with some business leaders supporting an integrated resort.

Kansai region, including Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto and Wakayama has 19 million people, 15 per cent of Japan’s population.

The next largest metropolitan areas, centering on auto manufacturing hub Nagoya, with just over 9 million people is not expected to seek an integrated resort.

Osaka’s mix of size and business ties are to its advantage

“We believe the major cities like Osaka offer the best opportunities for IRs to be developed on a large scale, similar to what we have developed in Macau,” Galaxy Entertainment Japan general manager Satoshi Okabe says.

Last week, Osaka announced it would start its Request for Concepts process, even before the national government has finished making the rules, aiming to choose its IR operator next year.

This follows Osaka Ishin no Kai (Osaka Restoration) winning last month’s elections for mayor and governor, with the goal of opening an IR on Yumeshma island before World Expo 2025.

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