NagaCorp Weighs Nagasaki Amusement Park for Resort Casino as Officials Await Japanese Government Action

Posted on: June 29, 2019, 08:35h. 

Last updated on: June 30, 2019, 01:32h.

NagaCorp has interest in placing a gaming venue in Nagasaki — perhaps at the Huis Ten Bosch amusement park — among other locations in Japan, according to media reports.

Huis Ten Bosch amusement park in Nagasaki is one location being considered by NagaCorp for a Japanese casino resort. (Image: Nikkei Asian Review)

Nagasaki and local officials have recommended the theme park as a spot for a casino. A 74.1-acre parcel is available for development.

In nearby Cambodia, NagaCorp has exclusive rights in Phnom Penh to operate casinos. NagaWorld runs two venues in the nation’s capital, and plans to open a $3.5 billion resort casino there in 2025.

NagaCorp Still Evaluating Locations

When asked for comment about the Nagasaki amusement park site, Adam Steinberg, who is affiliated with NagaCorp, told GGRAsia this week, “We’re still very much evaluating in the area for our options and opportunities.

“We’re going to evaluate the way that we can deliver the best value to Naga [Corp], to Nagasaki and the Kyushu region, and create the entity that will deliver the best value for everyone,” Steinberg further said in the interview. “We are researching and evaluating all of Japan.”

Steinberg gave his comments while attending Thursday’s Kyushu-Nagasaki IR Business Connect event. Local authorities at the meeting apparently backed putting a casino at Huis Ten Bosch.

Nagasaki is attractive… The land available [at Huis Ten Bosch] … is well laid-out,” Steinberg told GGRAsia about placing a gaming venue there.

The higher population density and the fact the region appears to back a casino also favor placing a venue there, he added.

Nagasaki Survey Backs Casino

A January poll conducted by the Nagasaki Shimbun newspaper found a majority of those questioned favored building an integrated resort (IR) at Huis Ten Bosch. They felt it would have a positive effect on the local economy.

The area was hit hard by Japan’s economic slump in the 1990s. The theme park filed for bankruptcy in 2003.

In April, officials from Huis Ten Bosch and government leaders of Nagasaki Prefecture and Sasebo City said they want part of the amusement park to be considered for an IR.

Japan’s national government is expected to provide more details perhaps as early as August on plans to allow three IRs in the Asian nation. Casino operators are awaiting the government’s requirements.

Beyond Nagasaki, Osaka is seen as another likely spot for one of the gaming venues. Yumeshima Island, an artificial island, is being mentioned as a possible site in the region.

In March, MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren predicted that Osaka will be the first region approved for a casino resort in Japan. He added his company will “focus all of our energy on Osaka.”

Not all the areas support opening gaming venues. A poll of Yokohama residents found last September that 97 percent of those questioned had negative views of a casino being located there.

Last year, Japan legalized casino resorts. Analysts predicted in December that Japan’s casino market will quickly become the second biggest in the world, after the Chinese gaming enclave of Macau.

Despite the keen interest, the first Japanese casino resorts may be unlikely to open until 2026. At least that is the conclusion of Global Market Advisors (GMA).

In a report, the firm said legislative delays and construction challenges will prevent a 2024 launch. The Japanese government already delayed plans to establish a regulatory body to oversee its casino industry and delayed outlining a framework of regulations until after summer elections.

Casinos are unpopular with as much as two-thirds of the electorate. Politicians do not want opposition to gaming to hurt candidates’ chances during an election.