U.S.-based operator of casinos MGM Resorts International says it will submit a proposal to develop a casino resort in the Japanese prefecture of Osaka. The document will be submitted in partnership with Japanese financial services group Orix Corp, confirmed on Monday Ed Bowers, chief executive of MGM Resorts Japan, during a media event in Osaka.
Osaka’s request-for-concept (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.
On Monday’s event, Mr Bowers did not reveal details of the proposal, reiterating that the consortium is anchored by, but not exclusive to, Orix, as “Osaka corporations” are expected to participate in the scheme as minority partners.
The specifications of the RFC phase are that the Osaka site will cover 49 hectares (121 acres). Yumeshima island, a land reclamation site in Osaka bay, has previously been flagged as the likely site for an integrated resort.
Japanese newspapers had also reported that the Osaka authorities’ plan requires a JPY930-billion (US$8.5 billion) investment in a casino resort, to open in 2024.
The term “integrated resort” or “IR” is used in Japan to describe large-scale gambling resorts with ancillary leisure facilities.
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.
Respondents to Osaka’s RFC must also outline countermeasures to gambling addiction and plans to ensure community safety.
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.
MGM Resorts chairman and chief executive James Murren had said earlier this year that the company expected Osaka to select “by early 2020” the private-sector partners it would like to work with when pitching to the national government for the right to host a casino resort.
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"We like Japan. We like all areas…but it is a matter of what the local government and the local people really want"
Ted Chan Ying Tat
Chief operating officer of Galaxy Entertainment Japan