Euro Gaming Operator Groupe Lucien Barrière Pledges ‘Naturally Japanese Resorts’ In Push for Japan License

Posted on: May 16, 2019, 02:08h. 

Last updated on: May 16, 2019, 02:12h.

In its effort to land one of Japan’s coveted gaming licenses, predominantly French casino outfit Groupe Lucien Barrière (GLB) has pledged to build a resort that is distinctively Japanese in flavor.

Lucien Barrière Japan division President Jonathan Strock is on an all-out push to land one of the Asian country’s coveted gaming licenses. (Image: YouTube)

Speaking before the Japan Gaming Congress 2019 in Tokyo on Thursday, Barrière executive Jonathan Strock — who spearheads the operator’s Japan division, said that if his company is awarded a gaming license in Japan, the plan is to build “naturally Japanese resorts,” rather than introducing more traditional, and less Japanese, concepts.

Underscoring the company’s commitment to Japan, earlier this week Strock attended an event in the Kansai region to mark the opening of a Lucien Barrière office there. The French firm is hoping to open an integrated resort in the Wakayama Prefecture. Strock was accompanied by French actor Jean Reno — known for his roles in The Da Vinci Code and The Pink Panther. Reno has been brought on board to promote the brand.

Currently, the company’s primary gaming presence sits in France, where it operates 33 casinos. GLB additionally has three gaming venues in Switzerland and one in Cairo.

Jockeying for Position

Japan’s Diet voted to legalize casino gaming in late 2017. And now Osaka, Japan’s third-largest city, is emerging as the likely destination for the country’s integrated resorts (IRs). Industry heavyweights, including Las Vegas Sands, MGM Resorts International, Galaxy Entertainment, Malaysia’s Genting Group, and Wynn Resorts have also launched efforts to land casino licenses in Japan, with MGM bringing former Nevada governor Brian Sandoval on board in January to head its push.

At a recent event in Tokyo, Singapore-based Marina Bay Sands executive George Tanasijevich said the company is “well positioned” to win one of the three Japanese gaming licenses.

“We’re the only operator that has active operation in the top three integrated resort markets in the world, and they’re all distinctively different,” said Tanasijevich.

Major Market Potential

Japan sits as the world’s third-largest economy behind the US and China, and is expected to issue three licenses for IRs in its initial phase. Each of the casino-encompassing esorts is expected to measure just over 1 million square feet and must be capable of holding at least 1,000 people at any time.

Last year, Morgan Stanley estimated Japan’s casino market could be worth $15 billion by 2025, while Goldman Sachs forecast $16 billion. In 2018, Nevada casinos had combined revenue of $11.9 billion and have not topped $12 billion on an annual basis since 2007. Macau is the world’s largest casino gaming market by revenue, having taken in $37.6 billion last year.

Legalized casino gaming in Japan has long faced opposition in the country. It took nearly  two decades for one of the Japanese legislative bodies to consider a related bill and even when it passed  in late 2017, 60 percent of those polled there opposed it.