Macau, Singapore, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, even Vietnam: it seems like wherever you go in Asia, gambling is prospering. Whether pulling on locals and their surrounding neighbors, or luring whales from overseas, Asian countries with legal casinos have, to put it bluntly, left the American casino industry in the dust. With one notable exception, that is: Japan.
Japan the Next Big Thing in Gaming
But all that could change soon, and Japan’s relatively affluent constituency could prove to be the next big thing to explode on the international gaming scene. Bill Lerner and Rich Moriarty of Union Gaming Group are banking on it, anyway.
The working duo put their business plan together in New York City five years ago, with the idea being to form a boutique investment bank and securities firm with the worldwide casino industry as their focus. Naturally, they settled in Las Vegas as their headquarters.
Today, they are recognized as a mover and shaker in an industry that is as competitive as any out there, and are already preparing to host an important conference for key industry players: a three-day conference in Tokyo specifically targeted towards Japan’s possibilities as a legalized gaming arena in the not-too-distant future. Although casinos are still not legal in Japan, gaming analysts like Lerner and Moriarty think there’s gold in them thar hills if it ever comes to pass.
It’s been an arduous and, at times, tedious process, but the Union Gaming pair thinks this sitting government could make it happen at last, and they want to be in on the ground floor when, and if, it happens. To that end, their upcoming gathering will bring together Japanese officials, major gaming operator CEOs, and the gaming investment community in one place, where hopefully everyone’s gambling stars will align at last.
“We’re creating a platform that is bringing together all parties for communication and education,” said Lerner, who has 16 years under his belt as an equity research analyst on Wall Street. “There is a huge education gap and we believe this conference will help an industry improve from a structural perspective. From a regulatory and geographical perspective, we’re putting all the pieces together in one place,” Lerner added.
Major Speakers Scheduled
Union isn’t fooling around when they say have high-level guest speakers for their conference; on the scheduled docket are MGM Resorts International President Bill Hornbuckle, Wynn Resorts Development President Gamel Aziz, and Singapore Marina Bay Sands CEO George Tanasijevich. Several key Japanese government advisors will also be attending to make sure everyone knows how to present properly when the time comes.
Union Gaming has 20 employees, situated between Las Vegas and Macau, and three separate divisions. Its Union Gaming Advisors focuses on equity and debt offerings, mergers and acquisitions, private placements and equity trading, while the company’s equity research division analyzes two dozen publicly traded businesses in the gaming industry. Finally, Union Gaming Analytics conducts economic impact, feasibility and market analyses for both gambling sector businesses and various governments around the globe.