Yesterday, Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura revealed that Osaka City and Osaka Prefecture will team up with MGM Resorts International and Orix Corp. in the bidding process seeking to construct a casino resort in the recently liberalized Japanese gambling sector. The Governor further revealed that Marina Bay Sands is considered a potential major competitor for the casino operating permit.
As announced by Governor Yoshimura, if selected as one of the three casino operating license holders in the country, the consortium comprised of the US casino company and the Japanese financial services agency is planning to make an initial investment worth about ¥1.08 trillion (or about $9.7 billion) in a bid to establish an integrated casino complex in Osaka Bay in the late 2020s.
The aforementioned consortium was the only bidder for the Osaka integrated casino project – a large casino, hospitality and entertainment facility, one of the three that are originally meant to start operation in Japan as part of the Government’s efforts to make the country a more popular tourist destination.
Osaka Prefecture and Osaka City have unveiled plans to apply for a permit to operate an integrated casino resort in the spring of 2022 after their assemblies approve the application first.
The application period that the Japanese Government originally scheduled from January 2021 was delayed due to a number of factors and is now expected to begin in October. Local governments across the country are first required to hold an open bidding process in order to select their private-sector commercial partners for making an official bid for one of the three integrated casino resort licenses that are set to be issued by the Central Government of Japan.
Japan Liberalizes Casino Gambling Market to Attract More Tourists
Global casino companies have been eyeing Japan as an expansion target since the Japanese Government made casino gambling legal in 2018 in a move aimed at boosting the popularity of the country among local tourists. As mentioned above, the initial plans of the lawmakers to accept formal applications for casino operating licenses from local cities, prefectures and municipalities were postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic and other factors that had a negative impact on the process and forced the Government to put off the initially set deadlines.
As mentioned above, the application period is now set to begin in October.
The prefectures of Nagasaki and Wakayama have already shared they intend to participate in the bidding process for an operating casino license. They selected Casino Austria International Japan and the Canadian integrated resort operator Clairvest, respectively, as their privately-held commercial partners set to operate their integrated casino resorts if the Central Government gives them the green light to establish the facilities.
Recently, the city of Yokohama withdrew its bid for a casino operating license because of concerns about the possible negative effects of gambling on the local communities. Hokkaido was another destination that has been interested in establishing an integrated casino resort but in 2019, the Governor shared that the prefecture would not immediately proceed with a bid for a casino operating permit because of some local concerns with the environmental impact of such an establishment.
Osaka City and Osaka Prefecture have also been willing to participate in the integrated casino resort bidding process. A casino resort in Osaka is expected to attract about 20.5 million foreign and domestic visitors a year. Reportedly, such an establishment would also have a massive effect on the economy, as it is expected to generate more than ¥760 billion annually.