Mohegan Gaming Announces Japan Integrated Resort Bid in Nagasaki

Posted on: January 28, 2021, 10:56h. 

Last updated on: January 28, 2021, 12:13h.

Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment (MGE) has revealed its intentions to bid for an integrated resort casino license in Nagasaki, Japan.

Mohegan Gaming Japan Nagasaki
Mohegan Gaming CEO Mario Kontomerkos (insert) has his eyes set on Nagasaki. The Japanese city hopes to obtain one of the country’s three integrated resort licenses. (Image: Shutterstock/Casino.org)

The casino group owned by the Mohegan Tribe in Connecticut is partnering with Oshidori International Development GK, a Japanese company that was established for the primary purpose of building an integrated resort (IR). The development entity is a subsidiary of Oshidori International Holdings, a financial services firm based in China and traded on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Nagasaki is one of four cities that has publicly expressed its intentions to seek one of Japan’s three forthcoming IR permits. Osaka, Yokohama, and Wakayama are the other three contenders. Tokyo is also mulling an entry but has yet to confirm.

The Nagasaki prefecture announced the commencement of its request-for-proposal period on January 7. Nagasaki officials say they will select a winning casino proposal in August of this year.

MGE originally was targeting Hokkaido until the prefecture bowed out.

Tribe Focused on Asia

It’s been many years since the Mohegan Tribe simply operated its namesake Mohegan Sun casino resort in Connecticut. Today, MGE operates casinos in five states, plus Canada.

The casino operator is now taking its gaming business overseas by way of South Korea. Mohegan is spending $1.6 billion on phase one of its “Inspire” IR, located at Incheon International Airport. The resort is slated to open in 2022.

In Japan, MGE’s consortium with Oshidori is targeting Sasebo City in Nagasaki.

“Oshidori and MGE not only aim to collaborate in developing a world-class integrated resort but also in creating a dynamic community for Nagasaki to become a premium travel destination and a premier residential choice,” a release announcing the partnership explained.

Mario Kontomerkos, CEO of Mohegan Gaming, says Japan fits nicely with the company’s expansion in Asia.

Our growth strategy took into consideration the significant cross marketing opportunity between Project Inspire in Korea and Kyushu, Japan,” Kontomerkos said.

The Nagasaki prefecture is located on Kyushu island. It is the third-largest of Japan’s five main islands.

Along with South Korea and its ploy for Japan, MGE last year was awarded the lone IR casino license in Athens, Greece.

Nagasaki Small Fish in Big Pool

Japan legalizing three commercial casino developments has some rather large cities in the running. In fact, if Tokyo does opt-in, the country’s three largest cities — Tokyo, Yokohama, and Osaka — would all be seeking one of the three gaming concessions.

City — Population

  • Tokyo — 8.6 million
  • Yokohama — 3.7 million
  • Osaka — 2.7 million

Nagasaki is home to less than 500,000 residents. While that isn’t ideal for the interested global casino operators, it might be for Japanese lawmakers who will determine where the IRs go.

When Japan’s National Diet legalized commercial gambling in 2018, the legislature did so with the goal of increasing tourism across the Land of the Rising Sun. But the gaming package was also designed to provide an economic spark in less-populated areas in need of major investments.

“[Casinos] will help stimulate regional economies and eventually lead to growth of the overall Japanese economy,” then-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.

If Tokyo enters, the odds might lengthen for Yokohama, as the two metropolises border one another.