Connecticut’s two tribal operators, the Mohegans and the Mashantucket Pequots, may be collaborating on a proposed casino in the north of their home state, but when it comes to Japan, they will be going head to head in what is likely to be a fierce bidding process for a very limited number of licenses.

Japanese casino

Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment CEO Mario Kontomerkos told the Japan Gaming Conference that his company would create tourism synergy between a future Japanese casino resort and the $5 billion development it’s building at South Korea’s Incheon Airport. (Image: Indianz.com)

Representatives of both Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment and Foxwoods were in Tokyo on Friday for the Japan Gaming Conference, each stating their intention to compete for one of three (or possibly five) casino licenses.

Japan voted to legalize casinos in late 2016 and the Integrated Resorts (IR) Implementation Bill – which will provide a framework of regulation for the casinos – is currently being debated in parliament.

The future market has the potential to be the second-biggest in the world, after Macau, and US gaming giants like Las Vegas Sands and MGM Resorts International will be vying for a piece of the market.

Turning on the Charm

CEO of Foxwoods Felix Rappaport told Inside Asian Gaming that Mashantucket Pequots were undeterred by the contest ahead.

“We know it is a very competitive environment and we also know our limitations,” he said. “Are we the biggest gaming company in the world? Absolutely not. But we think we bring certain advantages that perhaps other companies don’t have.

“We are all about partnerships,” he continued. “We are the ultimate in respectful partners so when we come to Japan or to a particular target area for an IR we want to partner with people. We want local companies and local investment partners to work with us.”

Japan is Just Like Connecticut

Meanwhile, Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment CEO Mario Kontomerkos, was given in the opportunity to pitch for potential partners during a presentation at the conference and said he saw many similarities between Japan and his home state.

“Like Connecticut, the regional markets of Japan are four-season markets, meaning that a special kind of expertise is required to drive visitation, both in the winter snows and the summer heat,” he said, as reported by GGR Asia.

We never forget about our own community. The Mohegan tribe is a government entity; not a publicly-traded corporation. This is a very, very important distinction. Like the governments in Japan, we are required to plan, to provide for our constituents in a very long-term manner: not just for the next quarter, not just for the next year, but in fact for… generations.”

Kontomerkos said there was synergy between the $5 billion integrated resort project his company is developing in South Korea and a future resort in Japan. He promised to create “tourism synergy” between the two resorts and the two nations “that will be unmatched in all of Asia.”

Thus, Inspire is a $5 billion-dollar investment not in just Korea, but in all of northern Asia, including Japan, he said.