Wynn Resorts Will Pass on Osaka, Focus on Tokyo Area in Japan Integrated Resort Quest

Posted on: October 14, 2019, 07:44h. 

Last updated on: October 14, 2019, 11:40h.

Wynn Resorts is the latest gaming company to abandon a plan to bring an integrated resort to Osaka, Japan’s third-largest city, opting to focus its efforts in that country on the Kanto region, which includes the capital of Tokyo.

Wynn Resorts CEO Matt Maddox has his company focusing on Tokyo for a Japan gaming license after dropping Osaka plans. (Image: AGB Nippon)

Earlier this year, Wynn was one of seven operators that participated in Osaka’s request-for-concept (RFC) initiative. Others in that group included Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd., Genting Singapore Ltd. Las Vegas Sands Corp, Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd, MGM Resorts International, and a local consortium.

Wynn, the operator of two integrated resorts on the Las Vegas Strip, is the third company since August to drop Osaka plans, following rivals Sands and Melco.

Although we have decided not to pursue an integrated city resort in Osaka at this time, we wish the city the very best and look forward to following its continued success,” said Wynn in a statement cited by GGR Asia. “Wynn Resorts is currently focused on the Kanto area.”

The Kanto region includes Tokyo, Japan’s largest city, as well as the Gunma, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Saitama, Tokyo, Chiba and Kanagawa prefectures.

Change Of Tune

Two years ago, Steve Wynn, then the chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of the company bearing his surname, said Tokyo, Yokohama, and Osaka would each be suitable destinations for the type of high-end integrated resorts the company is known for building.

He left the company early last year amid a cloud of scandal that has since resulted in a slew of lawsuits alleging sexual abuse, harassment, and misconduct. Wynn liquidated his financial interest in the gaming company in March 2018 and has not been found guilty of any crimes in a criminal court.

Since then, his successor, Matt Maddox, has appeared flexible regarding the company’s Japan intentions, declining to focus on a specific city in the Land of the Rising Sun.

In a June interview with CNBC, Maddox said his company was taking a “low profile” approach to Japan and that Wynn Resorts is working with a group that’s evaluating “various cities.”

A Win For MGM?

With the news that Wynn is shifting its focus to the Kanto area, the Osaka race is down to three viable competitors: MGM Resorts International, Genting Singapore, and Galaxy Entertainment.

Former Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval (R) joined MGM early this year after leaving office and is leading the company’s Japan effort, which has long been focused on Osaka. The operator of the Bellagio and the Mirage, among other Strip properties, has previously accused rivals, such as LVS, of not being loyal to the Japanese city.

Due to the desire of Japanese regulators to follow a gaming industry model similar to Singapore’s, market observers widely view LVS and Genting Singapore as two of the leading contenders for Japan gaming licenses. But MGM has also frequently been mentioned in the frontrunner conversation.

Whether it’s Wynn focusing on Tokyo, or MGM being “all in” on Osaka, there are risks to honing in on a single Japanese metropolitan area for operators due to the way the licensing process works. First, a gaming company must be selected as the official partner of a particular city. Then the national government must approve that region as one that will be home to one of Japan’s first three integrated resorts.