First Japan-Led Integrated Resort Consortium Revealed, French Casino Operator Partnered

Posted on: August 14, 2020, 09:10h. 

Last updated on: August 14, 2020, 10:38h.

The first Japan-led integrated resort (IR) consortium was announced today, as Tokyo-based Pixel Companyz has brought in French casino operator Partouche Group to make a bid on one of the three forthcoming commercial gaming licenses.

integrated resort casino Japan IR Pixel
Pixel Companyz CEO Hiroaki Yoshida is championing his company’s effort to win the rights to build an integrated resort in his native Japan. (Image: GGRAsia)

Joji Kokuryo, managing director of Bay City Ventures, a consultancy to global casino operators prepping their bids to enter Japan’s approaching casino market, says to his knowledge, “It’s the first actual Japanese-led IR consortium.”

Of course, it’s not the first IR consortium to involve a Japanese company. MGM Resorts has long been partnered with Orix, a diversified financial services group in Japan. MGM and Orix are focused on winning licensure in Osaka.

Pixel and Partouche didn’t disclose their targeted area.

Pixel Companyz and Groupe Partouche will work together to plan, develop, and operate a premier integrated resort in Japan,” a statement read. “The consortium aims to develop an IR unique to Japan that will highlight the tourism assets, food culture, brands, and the hospitable culture that the country has to offer.”

Established in 1986, Pixel’s core business has been in solar power and various technologies, including gaming manufacturing. The group is now focused on entering the tourism and leisure sector, with a focus on real estate development and hospitality.

Partouche was founded in 1973, and today operates 42 casinos, luxury hotels, and restaurants, most of which are in France.

Odd, But Perhaps Good Timing

The news of Partouche joining forces with Pixel comes a little more than a week after a rather bizarre announcement from the casino operator.

On August 4, Partouche said it was terminating its Japan IR consortium alliance with Hong Kong-based Oshidori International Holdings. That was news to few, as reports surfaced in May that the Partouche-Oshidori arrangement was no more.

Partouche’s new partnership shows the French casino company remains optimistic about its chances in Japan. And with Las Vegas Sands exiting the race in May, and Wynn Resorts closing its Yokohama office earlier this month, a Japan-led consortium might now be much more attractive to central government officials.

MGM is the clear front-runner for one of the three IR licenses. Other companies prepping bids include Melco Resorts, Galaxy Entertainment, Genting, and Hard Rock.

Kokuryo believes Pixel and Partouche will focus on a regional market, as compared with a large city, such as Osaka, Yokohama, or Tokyo. That could also bode well with lawmakers who will select the three winning IR pitches. The original purpose of Japan’s decision to move forward with casinos was to grow tourism to the country, but also help economically energize regional markets.

Odds Remain Long

Despite being led by a Japanese firm, and the potential attractiveness of committing to a regional destination, the odds likely aren’t good for the Pixel-Partouche project.

According to Pixel’s website, the company has just 48 employees and capital of ¥2.77 billion ($26 million).

Japan prefectures are looking for IR consortiums to invest several billion dollars in their casino complexes. Though original budgets floating upwards of $10 billion per property have been reined in by COVID-19, and with potentially unfavorable market regulations issued by the central government, Pixel might not have the financial wherewithal to be a serious contender.