Japan-based tourism and hospitality firm Kamori Kanko Co Ltd is proposing to develop a casino resort in the Japanese island of Hokkaido, a popular tourism destination.
The firm said in a press release on Wednesday its project was being developed in partnership with the authorities of Rusutsu Village, in Hokkaido’s Shiribeshi subprefecture.
The initial blueprint for the project features leisure and entertainment areas comprising 1,300 hotel rooms, some spas, restaurants, bars and lounges, shop space, 25,000 square metres (269,097 sq feet) of meeting facilities, and a gaming area covering 6,800 sq metres. The gaming area would account for “approximately 2.9 percent of the resort’s total gross floor area,” according to the release.
A cap of 3 percent of total gross floor area for gaming has been mentioned previously in media reports of preferred national policy.
The Japanese firm added it forecast total gross gaming and non-gaming revenue at a Rusutsu casino resort “to reach well over US$1 billion” annually.
“Rusutsu Village and Kamori Kanko have received considerable interest from experienced gaming operators and are continuing to work diligently with the relevant parties on its bid for one of the first-round integrated resort licences,” the document said.
Several major global gaming operators have affirmed their respective interest in developing a casino resort in Japan. A number of industry executives expect the first casino licences to be issued in around the year 2020, with the first resorts to open for operation in circa 2025.
The locations are set to be selected via a process including pitches to be made to central government by local authorities, in tandem with their respective private-sector partners. The national government wants by July to announce the policy framework under which those local governments can make such pitches.
Up to three casino projects will be permitted at yet-to-be determined locations across the country under a first wave of casino liberalisation. Hokkaido has consistently been mentioned as a potential location for one of Japan’s first such venues.
A two-day “Hokkaido IR Showcase” discussing the region’s potential to host a casino project is taking place in Hokkaido until Thursday (January 10). It features representatives from several U.S.-based gaming operators, including Caesars Entertainment Corp, Hard Rock International Inc, and U.S. regional tribal casino operator Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, known as Mohegan Sun. Macau-based Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd and SJM Holdings Ltd are also among the casino operators making presentations at the event.
Kamori Kanko’s Wednesday release quoted firm president Hisatake Kamori as saying: “An integrated resort at Rusutsu will allow for the development of core community-based support infrastructure.”
He added: “Aside from casino gaming, which is only a small component in the overall scheme, our vision includes healthcare facilities, schools, commercial and retail precincts, multi-family homes, and more tourism and entertainment venues, all in an environmentally-friendly manner.”
Kamori Kanko stated its project aimed “to create a hub in central Hokkaido that encourages population growth and links two of the island’s largest subprefectures – Sapporo and Hakodate.” The firm said it would focus on attracting domestic and international tourists to the region, in order to “maximise economic impacts” from the casino resort and “effectively minimising any social impact to the Rusutsu community.”
“Visitors come to Hokkaido for nature and the outdoors, skiing, local cuisine, culture and heritage,” Mr Kamori said in his prepared statement. “A Hokkaido integrated resort needs strong winter activities to support year-round tourism and to provide a unique experience for guests. Without the ski infrastructure, we do not believe an integrated resort can be successful during our cold winters.”
Kamori Kanko said it was being advised by gaming consultancy The Innovation Group on its Hokkaido project.
The Japanese firm owns and operates the Rusutsu Resort Hotel and Convention Centre. According to its release, the property “is the largest all-season resort in Hokkaido, welcoming more than 1.5 million visitors per year.”
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