Melco Resorts and Entertainment, a casino resort developer headquartered in Hong Kong, is trying to convince lawmakers in Japan that it has long been a close friend of the Asian country.

Melco Resorts Lawrence Ho Japan casino

Lawrence Ho, seen here posing in Tokyo, wants Japanese politicians to know his China-based Melco Resorts thinks quite highly of the neighboring country. (Image: Junko Kimura/Getty Images)

Melco officials are campaigning to land one of two expected integrated casino resort licenses. In a press release issued this week, the corporation explained its long admiration of Japan.   

Lawrence Ho, the billionaire founder and CEO of Melco Resorts, did his best to persuade the Japanese government that he’s best positioned to build the type of resort they desire. Japan’s National Diet, its lawmaking body, is currently drafting a bill that will lay the groundwork to welcome commercial casinos to the Pacific Ocean island nation.

“Japanese arts and culture have been a personal passion of mine for decades,” the 40-year-old Ho stated. “It is a uniquely modern society on a fast train to the future. Melco hopes to build in Japan the most imaginative, exciting and dynamic integrated resort this world has ever seen.”

Melco owns three casino resorts in Macau, City of Dreams, Studio City, and Altira. City of Dreams Manila in the Philippines, and the Tigre de Cristal resort in Russia, are also part of the company’s holdings.

Expo Partner

The Japanese city of Osaka and Kansai region are jointly bidding for the rights to host Expo 2025, a worldwide event put on every five years by France’s Bureau International des Expositions. The 2025 conference will run for 185 days beginning in May of that year, with an estimated 28 million to 30 million people expected to attend.

Four bidders remain, with Baku, Azerbaijan, Paris, and Yekaterinburg, Russia, still in the running.

Japan’s bid comes with the theme, “Designing Future Society for Our Lives.” This week, Melco Resorts announced it has become an official partner with the Osaka/Kansai committee.

Melco’s partnership is almost certainly an effort by the Chinese conglomerate to establish new relationships with architectural visionaries in Japan, and to show the Japanese government its commitment to the country.

Appeasing Demands

Nearly every major casino developer on planet Earth is anxiously awaiting the details of Japan’s integrated resort bill. Las Vegas Sands and MGM Resorts are thought to be the frontrunners for the two licenses, but along with Melco, Hard Rock, Galaxy Entertainment, and others are expected to bid.

One thing is nearly for certain, and that’s the likelihood that Japan’s bill will require licensees to work closely with local developers and operators.

Ako Shiraogawa, who’s heading up Melco’s Japanese casino campaign, said in this week’s release, “What Melco is preparing to create in Japan is a uniquely Japanese integrated resort, one informed by local insights, shared with local partners and built to support local communities. Our approach of bringing together a team of Japanese advisors, architects and executives will ensure that we keep Japanese culture and heritage at the heart of anything we build.”

He added that Melco’s ultimate goal is to construct a casino resort that accomplishes Japan’s goal of creating new destinations to increase tourism.

Last month during a trip to Japan, MGM CEO Jim Murren said his company was also committed to partnering with Japanese entities, and that MGM has a proven track record in foreign markets.