Global casino operators are looking to move into the Japanese market, following potential legislation by the government to legalise casino resorts. These businesses are now looking for local partners and host cities, as they compete for the privilege of opening Japan’s first casino. Lucky Nugget Casino have been keeping an eye on this story as it develops, and will bring you more as we hear it.
Bidding for casino rights
Many businesses want rights to the first legal casinos in Japan. Some of the operators who are interested in the Japanese market are MGM Resorts, Hard Rock Café, Las Vegas Sands Corporation, and Genting Singapore. They will be discussing plans with local authorities, attempting to draw up plans in advance of the future licensing phase.
Hard Rock Café held talks with local firms in Tokyo in December, considering how a casino could affect Japanese locals. The company also supposedly discussed problem gambling and other social issues. Other companies will no doubt be holding similar talks to discuss how their casino plans would affect the local area.
Thirty six legislators are drafting new regulations designed to regulate the Japanese industry and provide guidelines for selecting operators. The locations for the casinos hasn’t been confirmed yet, but will be by September. The likeliest option will probably be local authorities teaming up with casino operators and bidding for the licenses together. There are two or three licenses expected to be up for grabs – but the real number hasn’t been revealed yet.
Tokyo may have been ruled out as a potential venue due to its involvement with the 2020 games. However, nearby Yokohama is a strong contender – it shares a metropolitan area with Tokyo, to the point where the two cities are often viewed as one entity. Osaka is another likely candidate, thanks to its strong tourist appeal and comparative wealth of development space.
Japanese casinos’ appeal
Japan is an excellent country to expand into: it has a wealthy population, large cities, and sees high levels of tourism.
24 million people visited the country last year, a number which is only set to rise thanks to the 2020 Olympic Games. In addition, Reuters estimates that two casinos could bring annual revenues of up to USD $10 billion, or as much as $40 billion if more are approved. Obviously, big players in the casino industry want to be involved with those sums of money.
Legalising casino resorts is seen as a way for Japan to continue its tourism boom. The operators will probably be chosen by the end of 2019, and the resorts will open around 2023, in accordance with rules from the Diet (Parliament, pictured above). The resorts will be based on American-style complexes, combining leisure and gambling in one easy location: the proposed resorts will contain hotels, shops, casinos and conference spaces, and potentially theatres for entertainment events.
Officials see the casinos as a way of ensuring continued tourism after the 2020 Olympics are over. While Japan probably will not legalise casinos to the same extent as Canada or New Zealand, they may take a more Singapore-style approach and focus on opulent venues that attract high rollers.
It’s going to be fascinating to watch how the Japanese gaming scene plays out. Lucky Nugget will be here to keep you informed every step of the way – and who knows, soon we could have a new player on the gambling world stage!