Osaka Japan Receives Initial Proposals from Seven Companies on Integrated Resort Venue

Posted on: May 31, 2019, 08:33h. 

Last updated on: May 31, 2019, 08:33h.

Five of seven operators who submitted preliminary information to gain a coveted gaming license in Osaka, Japan are well-known global companies that now must compete against each other.

Osaka Japan Mayor Ichiro Matsui is advocating for an integrated casino in the region. Seven companies have submitted initial proposals. (Image: The Japan Times)

Each of the seven sent in early request-for-concept (RFC) documents before the deadline of May 24. The process started in April to submit concepts for an integrated casino resort.

The city’s mayor, Ichiro Matsui, has not identified the names of the interested parties, GGRAsia reported. The next step in the process is operators submitting more documents and an initial review — which is likely to be finished in August.

It will be followed by three months when local government leaders will discuss the proposals. The decision on which casino operator to partner with is likely to be made in the early part of 2020.

The documents will offer details on a large hotel, exhibition space, the capacity to host major conventions, and features that will help promote tourism. Proposals also include information on how operators plan to limit problem gambling and other harms to the local community.

Altogether, Japan is likely to grant three licenses nationally for integrated casino resorts and will issue additional requirements later this year. Osaka is seen as a likely spot for one of the venues.

Casino Operators Named During Expo

To get an idea of which companies are vying for the Osaka license, GGRAsia noted several organizations which were highlighted at the Japan IR Expo forum held earlier this month. These include: Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd; Genting Singapore Ltd; Las Vegas Sands Corp; Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd; MGM Resorts International; Wynn Resorts Ltd; and a local alliance from Osaka.

In March, MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren predicted that Osaka will be the first region approved for an integrated casino resort in Japan. “We’ve made a decision to focus all of our energy on Osaka,” Murren had said.

Osaka likely wants to the venue to be opened when the World Expo 2025 will be held — between May 3 to November 3, 2025 –on Yumeshima Island in Osaka Bay. Yet, it may take a longer time to plan, review and construct the gaming venue.

Bloomberry Resorts Corp. predicts the time frame may be as long as five years. Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura says officials will still consider proposals that have an opening date after 2025.

The price tag is likely one factor officials will review. Melco Resorts’ Chairman and CEO Lawrence Ho Yau Lung expects to spend over US$10 billion on the venue — if his company is given the Osaka license.

Yumeshima Island Possible Location for Gaming Venue

Yumeshima Island is a possible site for the casino. An artificial island, it is now the site of a container terminal.

Soon to be constructed are a 55-story building at a planned new subway station. It will include hotel rooms, offices and restaurants, and eventually a theme park.

Last year, questions were raised by residents and those opposed to the gaming venue whether Yumeshima is safe for a casino. Worries focus on risk for flooding.

Mayor Yoshimura tweeted in response that Yumeshima is “nine meters above sea level, so there would be no flooding at all.”

Other potential locations include cities in the prefectures of Wakayama, Nagasaki, Hokkaido and Kanagawa. 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 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.