U.S. regional casino operator Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment, an entity commonly known as Mohegan Sun, has made a pitch for a Japan regional casino licence.
The overture was made by the firm’s chief executive, Mario Kontomerkos (pictured), during a presentation at the Japan Gaming Congress in Tokyo on Friday.
“We see many similarities between Mohegan Sun and the Japanese regional resort concept,” said the executive.
“Like Connecticut, the regional markets of Japan are four-season markets, meaning that a special kind of expertise is required to drive visitation both in the winter snows, and the summer heat,” Mr Kontomerkos added, referring first to the home state of its flagship U.S. regional venue.
Mohegan Gaming is already committed to expanding into Asia via a casino resort in South Korea, to be called Inspire. Currently under the laws of that country, the gaming part of the facility will only be open to foreign nationals. The property would cost US$1.6 billion for the first phase, with a total commitment of US$5 billion for multiple phases over a period of 20 years, the firm has said previously.
“As a development partner we see much synergy between our development in Korea and our future resort in Japan,” Mr Kontomerkos told delegates at the conference called to discuss Japan’s nascent casino sector.
“Our upcoming US$5 billion Korea entertainment resort, at Incheon International Airport in Seoul, opens in three years. Our resort, just minutes from one of the busiest transit points in Asia, will be fully integrated into the airport infrastructure. It means that Mohegan’s Inspire project will become the most attractive operator in northern Asia when it comes to ease of access and travel,” the executive added.
He further noted: “We will tie our Japanese venture into this connectivity… to create ‘tourism synergy’ between the two resorts – and the two nations – that will be unmatched in all of Asia. In other words, this is a US$5 billion dollar investment not in just Korea, but into all of northern Asia, including Japan.”
Mohegan Gaming says it currently has five resorts throughout United States; its flagship being Mohegan Sun in the northeastern state of Connecticut.
“Mohegan Sun is located in a very remote and rural area in southeast Connecticut, and has little – in the way of local population – to draw from. Yet it is the highest-grossing casino resort in the Western Hemisphere, currently attracting around 11 million visitors per year. This one property creates one-third of the annual visitation of the entire Macau [tourism] market,” asserted the CEO.
Mr Kontomerkos also pitched the company as socially responsible in terms of its approach to host communities.
He said: “We never forget about our own community. The Mohegan tribe is a government entity; not a publicly-traded corporation. This is a very, very important distinction. Like the governments in Japan, we are required to plan, to provide for our constituents in a very long-term manner: not just for the next quarter, not just for the next year, but in fact for… generations.”
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Chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International