Francis Lui Yiu Tung (pictured in file photo), vice-chairman of Hong Kong-listed Macau casino operator Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd, confirmed in a Monday company statement that it was still “actively pursuing” a casino licence in Japan, despite withdrawing from contention in one particular metropolis, Osaka.
He said the group was still looking at “other potential locations in Japan” and mentioned Yokohama by name. On Friday the Osaka authorities had confirmed that on their patch only one consortium - featuring MGM Resorts International and Japan’s Orix Corp – had been selected as qualified as a partner for the Osaka tilt at a casino complex, or integrated resort (IR), as such schemes are known in that country.
In late November Galaxy Entertainment had been identified as one of several international operators that had taken part in Osaka’s request-for-concept (RFC) process concerning an IR scheme.
Regarding Galaxy Entertainment’s withdrawal from the Osaka race regarding the follow-on request-for-proposal (RFP) phase, Mr Lui said in Monday’s statement: “We informed the Osaka City Integrated Resort Promotion Bureau of this decision well ahead of the February 14 deadline for application to participate in the RFP,” and the authorities had been “understanding and appreciative of the efforts we made in assisting” Osaka “with the process to date”.
“We have greatly appreciated being able to play an active role,” in Osaka’s RFC stage and “enjoyed the in-depth discussion this afforded us,” Mr Lui was further quoted as saying.
“However, after deep reflection we decided at this time that our focus should be on other potential locations in Japan, including among others, Yokohama,” Mr Lui stated.
Japan’s national authorities have said up to three casino licences will be permitted in the country in the first phase of gaming liberalisation. Osaka’s IR tilt – which still faces a selection process at central-government level – is focused on a 49-hectare (121-acre) site in Yumeshima, an artificial island in Osaka Bay and near the city’s downtown district.
Japan’s central authorities had mentioned last month they were sticking to a previously-mentioned schedule – from early January 2021, up to July 30 that year – for interested and qualified local governments to pitch for the right to host an IR.
Galaxy Entertainment’s Mr Lui noted in the Monday statement: “We remain fully committed to Japan, to assist the government to achieve their tourism and economic goals…”
He added, referring first to his group’s Galaxy Macau resort in Macau’s Cotai, district, and second to its investment in and alliance with Monaco casino operator Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer (SBM): “We believe Galaxy Entertainment Group’s healthy balance sheet and track record in developing and operating the world’s most successful IR, combined with SBM’s 150-year track record in creating the world’s first IR destination at Monte-Carlo,” could make a successful Japan resort from the partners “a reality”.
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