The race to be amongst the casino pioneers in Japan is hotting up.
Earlier this week it was confirmed that MGM Resorts had been selected as the operational partner for the prefecture of Osaka, bringing their experience and expertise to the city’s bid to be amongst the three licensees to be decided by the national government.
It is thought that many other ‘Western’ giants of casino gaming were trying to get their slice of the pie too, but Caesars Entertainment – the gambling behemoth – were not said to be among them after initially stepping down from the race in 2019.
But it would appear that the firm has now made a complete about-turn, and will now attempt to enter the Japanese market in the Wakayama prefecture in the south west of the country.
They will buddy up with integrated resort specialist Clairvest Neem Ventures (CNV) for the bid, and will hope that their global reach and stellar reputation will be enough to convince ministers that they are the right combination to launch casino gaming in the Marina Bay area.
Whether Caesars feared missing out in the wake of MGM’s planned move into the country remains to be seen, but it was back in 2019 that they pulled out of the race to be amongst the first to break ground on a casino project in the Asian nation.
At the time, the CEO of Caesars, Tony Rodio, gave a rather cryptic explanation when he said:
“The timing of our decision is driven by sensitivity to the significant decisions Japan’s government and business partners will likely be making later this year to advance the process.”
Something has caused a re-think, and perhaps the fear of losing ground to MGM – or the increased potential now that Las Vegas Sands and Wynn Resorts have both withdrawn from their Japanese project – has been the stimulus.
CNV are certainly happy to have them back on board anyway, with their director Eddie Woo stating:
“We are confident that together, we can create a resort that provides significant local economic stimulation in Wakayama prefecture, throughout the Kansai region, and the rest of Japan.”
When Will Casinos in Japan Open?
As you can imagine, world events since the start of 2020 have conspired against the Japanese government in their quest to take a softly-softly entry into casino gaming.
But now the process is back up and running, and the government will issue its three integrated resorts licences within the next six months – April has been mooted as a decision date.
Once formalised, the successful parties will then be able to work on their blueprints and begin construction, with the second half of the 2020s a tentative deadline for the opening of Japan’s first new casinos.
There has been some scepticism and resistance amongst the Japanese people, but the current prime minister Yoshihide Suga – and his incoming successor Fumio Kishida – have both reiterated how new revenue streams will be vital in rebuilding the country’s economy.
At the time of writing, Caesars and MGM have been joined in the race for approval by the likes of Genting and Galaxy Entertainment Group, while two other applicants are reportedly said to have requested anonymity until the licensing results are announced.