Casino entrepreneur Steve Wynn, currently pursuing the opportunity of a casino licence in Japan, has mentioned Tokyo, Osaka and Yokohama as examples of Japanese cities that could support the “highest quality” of staff and supplies necessary for him to build a new resort.
Mr Wynn, chairman of Wynn Resorts Ltd, made the comments in an interview with Nikkei Asian Review, extracts of which were published on Friday. His group currently has casino resort operations in Las Vegas and Macau, and is due in the summer of 2019 to open the US$2.4-billion Wynn Boston Harbor resort on the East Coast of the United States.
Mr Wynn was asked in the interview about the topic of casino regulation in Japan.
Brokerage Union Gaming Securities Asia Ltd had said in a July memo that Japan risked “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory” if it burdened its casino bidding process with too much and too stringent regulation.
Mr Wynn noted: “Rules and regulations make the difference between success and failure.”
He added: “The government is always a partner in this business. In designing the regulations and the law, the government can make it possible for great success in the building and the management and the marketing of such a business; or they can make it difficult. Regulations, tax rates and all such things – affecting [construction], the location of the building and the operation of the business – all have profound impact on the result.”
Japanese media reported this week that the country’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party had clinched a deal with its coalition partner Komeito, to try to ensure the passage of the IR [Integrated Resort] Implementation Bill at the Extraordinary Session of Japan’s parliament, due to start this autumn.
Entrepreneur Mr Wynn was also asked during his interview about China’s anti-corruption drive, which had been ongoing when Wynn Macau Ltd was building and subsequently opening Wynn Palace, a US$4.4-billion new gaming resort in the Cotai district of Macau.
The anti-graft drive contributed – said investment analysts at the time – to a 26-month streak of year-on-year decline in market-wide casino gross gaming revenue in Macau, between June 2014 and July 2016, inclusive.
Mr Wynn noted: “The business came back. At least, it came back to our company, because my clientele and our customers have more money and more freedom. So our VIP business is growing again. So there is no major change.”
The businessman also praised Macau’s casino regulator, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau.
“After a decade, the regulatory agency in Macau has become more experienced in investigating and licensing the [junket] people in the business. Some of the VIP junket people were not qualified, because they didn’t have enough money to deal. Some of them were not qualified because of association. So the ones that survived are much stronger financially, and they all have been very carefully investigated. And that business is very healthy now.”
In September 2015, Macau junket operator Dore Entertainment Co Ltd – which operated a number of tables at Wynn Macau on the city’s peninsula – admitted it had been a victim of internal fraud by a former employee. The junket operator however did not confirm the amount of money involved.
Wynn Macau Ltd – in common with the other five Macau operators – faces the possibility of having to rebid for Macau casino rights when its current permit expires: in Wynn Macau’s case, the expiry is 2022, although under the current protocols it is possible for the city’s government to grant short-term extensions to current concessions before proceeding to a new concession process.
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"The demographics of Tokyo, Yokohama, and Osaka (possible Japanese urban gaming resort locations) warrant larger gaming floors [than 15,000 square metres]"
Analyst at investment research firm Morningstar