Genting Singapore Joins Legion of Operators Pursuing Yokohama License

Posted on: April 16, 2020, 11:10h. 

Last updated on: April 16, 2020, 11:57h.

Genting Singapore Ltd. is joining a group comprised of some of the gaming industry’s biggest names in pursuing a license to operate an integrated resort in Yokohama, according to a new regulatory filing.

Genting Singapore Eyes Yokohama
Resorts World Sentosa operator Genting Singapore has its sights set on Yokohama in Japan. (Image: Reuters)

News of the company’s interest in Japan’s second-largest city emerges just a day after Kazuyoshi Akaba, Japan’s Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, noted that the country will stick to a January through July 2021 timeline for cities to submit bids to become casino gaming destinations. Akaba said that time frame will not be adjusted because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Genting continues to be engaged in the ongoing request for concept (RFC) by Yokohama city and will focus efforts and resources in delivering a compelling proposal which will make Yokohama a must-visit tourism destination with particular prominence,” according to the filing.

Earlier this week, lawmakers in Yokohama said they’re pushing back to August the publication of the policy framework governing the integrated resort process there. The new date will coincide with the start of the city’s request for proposal (RFP) phase, in which it will entertain planners from interested gaming operators.

Tough Competition

Genting, the operator of the Resorts World Sentosa property in Singapore, among other global gaming venues, was previously interested in opening a casino in Osaka, but abandoned Japan’s third-largest city earlier this year. That move, coupled with Galaxy Entertainment doing the same, left MGM Resorts International as the lone competitor pursuing a gaming license in that metropolitan area.

By shifting its focus to Yokohama, Genting will be competing with the likes of Las Vegas Sands, Melco Resorts & Entertainment, and Wynn Resorts in hopes of landing one of the initial three Japanese gaming permits.

Analysts widely view LVS and MGM as two of the leaders in the competition, and while Genting is seen as an underdog, it has an advantage: experience running a high-end integrated resort in Singapore, a market Japan is looking to emulate. The only other competitor that boasts that trait is LVS.

Costs Matter

Tokyo, Yokohama and Osaka – Japan’s three largest cities – are the frontrunners to host the country’s first three gaming properties, but several other metropolitan regions are in the mix as well. In Yokohama, business leaders are insistent about making the area a gaming destination, despite strong opposition from locals.

Assuming the federal government moves ahead with plans to deem the bigger cities as gaming hubs, winning operators face considerable costs to bring high-end Las Vegas or Singapore-style integrated resorts to life in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Earlier this year, Genting investors voted to set aside $10 billion for a Japan project. But analysts and industry executives believe that price point is a floor, not a ceiling, when it comes to gaming properties in Asia’s second-largest economy.

Numbers as high as $12 billion to $15 billion are being discussed, meaning Genting could need to scrape together more cash if it eventually wins a Japanese license.