New MGM Cotai may offer “guidelines” for opening in Japan, Murren says

MGM has eyes on Japan, Macau

Reading time 1:02 min
Japan and Macau are the only two countries in Asia that interest the casino operator, said chief executive of MGM Resorts International.

Japan, which recently legalized casinos, has drawn the attention of several other international casino operators including Las Vegas Sands, Melco International Development and Galaxy Entertainment Group.

Other companies looking to expand into gaming have set sights on other Asian regions. Hong Kong-based Chow Tai Fook Enterprises, for example, is working on a development in Vietnam.

MGM, however, said it is focusing its efforts on winning a casino license in Japan and expanding in the Chinese enclave of Macau. CEO James Murren said, "Japan and Macau are the only major interests we have" in Asia.

Murren visited Japan 15 times in the past three years to meet potential strategic partners.

"We don't need to be in every market that allows for resorts," Murren stated. "I think regulatory, economic, cultural and social opportunities in Japan are vastly greater than what we would find interesting in the Philippines."

Murren said MGM will form a consortium with Japanese firms to build an integrated resort -- a hotel, stores, a theater, other facilities and a casino that would represent 2% of the total floor area. The casino is expected to account for a significant portion of the resort's total revenue.

The consortium's total investment would be as much as $10 billion, the MGM boss said.

In Macau, the casino operator has opted to focus on the mass market.

The new MGM Cotai is set to open next year. The resort will feature an interactive theater, public spaces and local restaurants. According to Murren, the project "provides some guidelines for Japan."

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