Three Japan Casino Licenses Available, Eight Areas Interested in Hosting Integrated Resort

Posted on: September 26, 2019, 07:45h. 

Last updated on: September 26, 2019, 10:57h.

There will soon be three Japan casino licenses up for grabs, and a recent government survey found that at least eight areas, and as many as 11, are interested in welcoming one of the multibillion-dollar integrated resorts (IR).

Japan casino license host cities
Add Tokyo to the list of potential Japan casino suitors. (Image: iStock)

The greatest opportunity to hit the gaming industry since Macau more than 15 years ago, the bidding war for Japan’s three IR casinos is underway.

Japan Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism Kazuyoshi Akaba revealed that the results of the government-commissioned survey gauging interest among area officials came out better than expected. GGRAsia – the online media source focused on Asian gaming matters – reported the findings.

The tourism chief identified the eight interested as Hokkaido Prefecture, Chiba city, Tokyo Prefecture, Yokohama city, Nagoya city, Osaka Prefecture, Wakayama Prefecture, and Nagasaki Prefecture.

The results are from a survey of local officials conducted between September 9-19. Kazuyoshi’s agency will now begin the process of reaching out to those regions that expressed interest to further discuss the IR bidding and licensing process.

The Jiji Press, in its own poll, found that Kawasaki city, Hamamatsu city, and Shizuoka Prefecture are additionally mulling formal enthusiasm in an IR, which would bring the number of candidates to 11.

Three’s Not a Crowd

When it comes to bidding, eight is better than three. And the results showing that a minimum of eight areas are interested is much-welcomed news to federal officials.

When Japan’s National Diet first passed legislation to authorize commercial casinos, only three prefectures – Osaka, Wakayama, and Nagasaki – had expressed public interest. The opposition was a result of the casino resorts remaining unpopular among the general public. But Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is nonetheless pressing forward with the foreigner-only venues in order to expand tourism.

Of course, there is no shortage of casino operators that want in on the market that is expected to become either the second or third-largest gaming market in the world behind Macau, and potentially Nevada. The front-runners are Las Vegas Sands and MGM Resorts, with other notables vying for a concession including Melco Resorts, Galaxy Entertainment, Wynn Resorts, Genting, and Hard Rock.

More candidate cities should presumably pay off for Japan, as consortiums partnered with the casino operators and host locales will up the ante to win over favor with the national government. Casinos and local companies will partner on an IR scheme, then need to be selected by a local host city, and then finally issue one of the three concessions by the national government.

Let Games Begin

 Sands is focused on Yokohama, as is Melco. MGM is committed to Osaka. Wynn says it will build the “world’s largest” casino in either Tokyo, Yokohama, or Osaka.

How much money are we looking at? With annual gross gaming revenue (GGR) projections at $10 billion split across the three casinos upon maturation, Fitch Ratings believes each IR could cost between $10 billion and $15 billion.

Melco Resorts CEO Lawrence Ho famously said following $10 billion construction projections from his rival casino billionaires, “There currently is no predetermined cap. I prefer not to constrain our dreams with price tags.”