Caesars Entertainment CEO Mark Frissora is in Japan this week trying to solicit support for his company to land an integrated casino resort license in the island nation.
According to Asia Gaming Brief, Frissora, along with other company executives, met Osaka Governor Ichiro Matsui and Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura to discuss their casino resort strategy.
Caesars recently became an official partner of Osaka’s bid to host the 2025 World Expo. They are the fourth casino company to sponsor the city’s bid after fellow Japan IR candidates Melco Resorts, MGM Resorts, and Hard Rock.
In January, Caesars announced the formation of its three-person Japan advisory committee to lobby lawmakers in the Asian nation. The group is led by former US Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D).
Japan’s National Diet is in the process of putting its finishing touches on its integrated resorts bill.
When it’s unveiled, expected sometime in the next few months, the general consensus among gaming experts is that the law will authorize up to three resorts. Casino floors will be restricted to 15,000 square meters (161,458 square feet), Japanese citizens will be forced to pay entrance fee around $20 per visit, and gross gaming revenues will be taxed at 22 percent.
Japan’s controlling Liberal Democratic Party initially supported the commercial gambling expansion in an effort to grow smaller cities. But casino operators naturally want to be in larger metropolises, and it’s now thought that the federal government is most likely to earmark the resorts for Tokyo, Osaka, and/or Yokohama.
But should the politicians stay true to their original goals, Caesars has also presented resort plans for Tomakomai, a small port city in northern Japan.
Another critical part of the Diet’s law is making sure the commercial casinos do not lead to elevated gambling addiction rates. The entry fee is expected in order to help keep those who cannot afford to gamble out.
Frissora announced this week a $250,000 initiative to develop responsible gaming educational programs in Japan.
In its shell IR bill passed in 2016, Japan’s legislature said only casino operators with “high morals, a sense of responsibility, and a clean nature” will be considered. That might eliminate Wynn Resorts from the shortlist in wake of the sexual misconduct scandal surrounding its former CEO.
Along with squeaky-clean reputations, Japan officials are also expected to require that bidders have experience dealing in foreign markets. While Caesars is in the early stages of developing an integrated resort in South Korea, the Nevada gaming company is largely a US-only operator. That doesn’t bode well for Frissora’s organization.
Las Vegas Sands and MGM Resorts do have international resorts, which is why Morningstar believes the two casino operators have the shortest odds of being welcomed into Japan. Melco Resorts and Galaxy Entertainment, both headquartered in Hong Kong with casinos in Macau, also remain in the running.
Finally, Caesars only recently exiting bankruptcy will presumably do the company no favors in earning a gambling permit.