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Yokohama to throw its hat into Japanese casino ring

Wed, Aug 21, 7:58am by Staff Writer

Yokohama will join the race for the right to host one of Japan’s first casino resorts according to government sources.

Casino News Daily reports that the country’s government has authorised the development of up to three integrated resorts that are expected to open in the mid-2020s.

Other Japanese cities and prefectures have already ramped up their efforts to race for the right to host one of the resorts.

Osaka has a plan for a resort on the artificial Yumeshima island and is considered by many as the frontrunner in the race.

The man-made island was selected, as the site for the 2025 World Expo last year, which is believed will further boost its casino bid.

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.

Yokohama set to announce plans later this week

The Mayor of Yokohama Fumiko Hayashi may announce that her city will bid for the right to host one of the casinos later this week.

It is understood that the port city has a population of 3.75 million people and plans to build the resort at the 47-hectare Yamashita Wharf, which is located not far from the tourist-heavy Yamashita Park.

Sources also said that the city government would submit during this September’s regular session of the local assembly a draft budget involving an additional 260 million yen the city would use to further its bid.

Japan could be target for crime – former Wynn security chief

The former head of security at Wynn Resorts says casinos in Japan will become targets for organised crime syndicates.

Casino.org reported last month that James Stern was fired by Wynn Resorts in April after testifying before the Massachusetts Gaming Commission that he used company money to secretly surveil Elaine Wynn, the casino operator’s largest single shareholder.

Ms Wynn’s former husband, Steve Wynn, had accused her of running a smear campaign to bring alleged sexual misconduct allegations to light.

Stern has since formed his own security consult firm called Global Gaming & Resort Security.

Speaking with The Japan Times, Stern said that three forthcoming integrated casino resorts will be targets for Japanese gangs.

Japan is legalizing three casino developments and the world’s largest gaming companies are organising their bids.

Gambling and illicit activities have long gone hand in hand.

With millions of dollars in play on a daily basis at mega casino properties, security is of utmost concern.

Casinos are often targeted as money laundering facilities and Stern is worried that local police in Japan aren’t properly trained to prevent three complexes from being used by organised crime syndicates.

“Japan is a notion of laws and I’m sure that the police will be prepared. But the casinos can’t trust the police to do everything. That won’t work well,” Stern said.

“Imagine if a gangster was able to get control over a VIP host. They could do a significant amount of damage,” Stern, a former FBI agent, added.

“There are many ways to skim money from a casino and criminals will easily figure out how to do it.”

The legalisation of commercial gambling remains unpopular among Japan’s general public.

But Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his controlling Liberal Democratic party are pressing on in an effort to make the country a more tourism-oriented destination.


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