Casino operator Genting Singapore Ltd is among the frontrunners for a licence to run a casino in Japan, according to brokerage Maybank Kim Eng. In a note published on Sunday, the Malaysian investment house said Genting Singapore “stands a good chance to win a licence thanks to its responsible gaming experience and solid net cash position”.
The brokerage said Japanese lawmakers have made repeated references to the social safeguards in place at Singapore’s casino resorts. Singaporean patrons there must pay an entry fee and have limit on the number of visits. Genting Singapore, which runs Resorts World Sentosa, has cash reserves in excess of SGD3 billion (US$2.2 billion) to finance any Japanese development, wrote Maybank analyst Samuel Yin Shao Yang. The brokerage said this places Genting Singapore at an advantage.
Late on Friday night, the Japanese parliament passed the second of two pieces of legislation that will lead to the establishment of a domestic casino industry. Maybank expects the Japanese government to seek out bids from operators as soon as next year, to issue the first casino licences in 2020 and gaming companies opening the first casino resorts in 2025.
But the bank says many questions about the advent of casinos in Japan have yet to be answered, including the questions of where casino resorts will be built, how much the developers will have to invest in them, whether foreign gaming companies will be permitted to own them in their entirely and whether Macau-style junkets will be permitted to operate in the country.
The brokerage said the highlights of the Japanese gaming framework include a cap on casino floor area of 3 percent of the total area, a casino tax rate set at 30 percent of gross gaming revenue (GGR), and a JPY6,000 (US$54) entry fee for Japan’s nationals and residents, paired with a monthly cap on their patronage.
Gaming industry commentators have forecast that Japanese casino GGR will fall in a range between US$6 billion and US$40 billion annually, according to Maybank’s note. By comparison, Macau’s GGR for the 2017 calendar year was MOP265.74 billion (US$33.02 billion) and Singapore’s was US$4.6 billion.
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Alvin Chau Cheok Wa
Chief executive of privately-held VIP junket business Suncity Group