Casino operator Wynn Resorts Ltd has closed its office in Yokohama, Japan, as the group considers how to “evolve” its operations “to align with a post-pandemic market”, business news outlet Bloomberg reported on Monday, citing a company statement.
The report did not mention when the closure took place. But it cited the company as saying it maintained a long-term interest in Japan regarding so-called integrated resorts (IRs), the Japanese term for large-scale casino complexes with associated hotel, conference and entertainment facilities.
United States-based Wynn Resorts had announced in December a “Yokohama focus” to its campaign to participate in a Japan casino licence, and launched an office there on December 15 for a unit called Wynn Resorts Development Japan. Wynn Resorts is also the parent of Macau casino concessionaire Wynn Macau Ltd.
The Covid-19 pandemic was having “an unprecedented negative impact on integrated resort development,” and Wynn Resorts was “considering how we evolve our operations to align with a post-pandemic market,” Bloomberg reported the firm as saying.
Japanese media have recently mentioned that Yokohama’s mayor faces some local opposition to the idea of hosting a casino resort.
In other developments, Japan’s Sankei Shimbun newspaper had reported last month that Japan’s national so-called basic policy on IRs would be delayed until August or later, citing a national government-linked source.
Delay to publication of the national basic policy on IRs could, say commentators, have implications for a key phase of liberalisation scheduled for the first half of 2021, when local governments – in concert respectively with a selected private-sector partner – must apply to the national government for the right to host a casino resort.
A maximum of three IRs will be allowed nationally in a first phase of Japan’s market liberalisation.
U.S. casino operator Las Vegas Sands Corp had said in May that the “framework” for development in Japan of an IR scheme had made the firm’s goals there “unreachable”. Industry commentators had mentioned to GGRAsia in May that Las Vegas Sands’ decision to pull out of the Japan race was in likelihood because there were too many unknowns in the Japan regulatory and business environment.
In that company’s second-quarter earnings call on July 22, chairman and chief executive Sheldon Adelson, said his firm would be “open” to rethinking its position on Japan’s nascent gaming industry, if the country’s legal framework becomes what it would regard as more investor-friendly.
Other companies that have been previously identified as suitors for a Yokohama IR included Genting Singapore Ltd, operator of the Resorts World Sentosa casino complex in Singapore, and Macau licensee Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd.
Fellow Macau licensee Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd has also mentioned a Yokohama focus in its own campaign to win a Japan gaming licence.
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Analysts at brokerage JP Morgan Securities (Asia Pacific)