Lawrence Ho Yau Lung, chairman and chief executive of Asian casino developer Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd, says the company’s investment if it won a licence to build a casino resort in Japan could be north of US$10 billion.
“Our estimate is that [the investment for an integrated resort in Japan] is going to be at least US$10 billion and probably more than that,” said Mr Ho (pictured), confirming the group’s interest in bidding for a licence in the Japanese prefecture of Osaka.
“We’ve spent so much time in Osaka, so we’re definitely going to participate in the request-for-concept [RFC] process,” said the executive. “Even a year ago we were ready for the RFC phase. That shows how much work we have done,” he added.
Mr Ho was speaking to GGRAsia on the sidelines of the Japan Gaming Congress in Tokyo on Thursday. The term “integrated resort” or “IR” is used in Japan to describe large-scale gambling resorts with ancillary leisure facilities.
Other contenders for a gaming licence in Japan have suggested that the capital cost of a resort in that country could be US$10 billion. United States-based casino operator MGM Resorts International confirmed this week that it was going to submit a proposal for the Osaka casino RFC phase, in partnership with Japanese financial services group Orix Corp.
Osaka’s RFC application phase – in its effort to identify parties interested in being commercial partners for hosting a casino resort – began on April 25 and ends on May 24.
A maximum of three casino resorts will be permitted in the first stage of market liberalisation in Japan, and interested local governments will still need to get approval from the national authorities.
Under the Osaka RFC requirements, a submission should include a number of core attributes as identified by the national government in ordinances on March 26. They are: convention capacity; exhibition space; an attraction to promote to the world Japan and its culture; ability to function as a tourism gateway to other parts of the country; and a large-scale hotel.
Speaking about Melco Resort’s prospects in Osaka, Mr Ho told GGRAsia that the company was “absolutely confident” about its success. “There’s a lot of competition and politics involved, but we are absolutely confident about our bid for Osaka,” said the CEO.
In a presentation session at the Japan Gaming Congress, Mr Ho said Melco Resorts aimed to create a casino resort that appealed to what he termed a premium audience. He said the company’s concept for Osaka was called “City of the Future”.
“Japan is in a unique position, because we have the ability to learn from the mistakes made by others in the past and draw upon what’s been learned by previous successful premium tourism ventures,” stated Mr Ho.
At the presentation, Melco Resorts vice president for design, Pim Robberechts, said the firm’s proposal was created specifically for Osaka. “This integrated resort is inspired by the bay that surrounds it, the city it connects to and the beautiful region where it is located,” he stated.
Mr Robberechts added: “We plan to build a new generation of integrated resorts, that will combine entertainment, luxury, thrills, culture and hospitality at a scale and a level that has never been seen before. It will be a magnet for huge audiences of sophisticated international leisure travellers.”
Another company executive, chief marketing and brand officer Frederic Winckler said Melco Resorts Japan strategies would be to focus on “premium” meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE).
“Premium MICE [customers] look for spaces that are not only big, but that offer extraordinary experiences for large and small groups,” said Mr Winckler. “That’s the new rule and that’s exactly what we are designing.”
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