International edition
June 17, 2021

International casino firms have begun studying expansion opportunities

Japan edges closer to lifting casino ban

(Japan).- Japan lawmakers agree to submit a long-debated legalisation bill to parliament amid fresh impetus for liberalisation following Tokyo’s Olympics win. Hiroyuki Hosoda, the chairman of a group of lawmakers promoting casino development in Japan, said the group aimed to submit a casino bill to the next parliamentary session, expected to start next month, with a view to passing the bill in the following session next year.

W

ynn Resorts said on Wednesday it would consider investing more than us$4 billion in Japanese casino resorts, while MGM Resorts International president Bill Hornbuckle said the firm would spend "several" billion dollars.

International casino companies have begun studying expansion opportunities in Japan as Tokyo's selection to host the 2020 Olympics Games boosts confidence that the law legalising gambling resorts will pass.

Casinos are currently banned in Japan and Union Gaming Group estimates the country could turn into the world's second-largest gambling hub behind Macau with US$10 billion in revenue a year if it opens up. "A lot of Japanese gamble at casinos overseas, so the ban doesn't make sense any more," Hosoda said. "It just means tax revenues go elsewhere."

It could take five years for the first casino to be operational after the law was passed, he said. Wynn Resorts' investment in a Japanese casino would be "way bigger" than the us$ 4 billion it was spending on its current project in Macau's Cotai area, Wynn Resorts Development president Gamal Aziz said.

Both Wynn and MGM said they planned to team with Japanese consortiums to develop casino projects. Las Vegas Sands was also "open-minded" about having local partners, said George Tanasijevich, its managing director of global development. The three companies are all interested in developing resorts in Tokyo and Osaka.

Among the potential local partners are trading companies such as Mitsui, Mitsubishi and Itochu and gaming machine makers Sega Sammy and Konami. The trading companies have experience in project finance and real estate development connections, while the game makers have helped develop casino projects and technology outside Japan.

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