Representatives from Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd have met with authorities from Osaka, in Japan, to discuss building a casino resort in the city. Japanese authorities are currently considering legalising casino gambling in the country.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports on Thursday that company director Todd Nisbet recently met with Osaka governor Ichiro Matsui to discuss the matter. The report did not clearly state when the meeting took place.
Mr Nisbet told the newspaper in emailed correspondence that some of the topics discussed included the competitive vantages of Osaka to host a casino resort, including the nearby 24-hour international airport and cheaper land costs compared with other Japanese cities. According to media reports, there are at least six prefectural authorities vying to host casino complexes: Osaka, Tokyo, Hokkaido, Nagasaki, Miyazaki and Okinawa.
The executive said Melco Crown representatives had been meeting local government representatives and businesses to discuss the benefits of integrated resorts to Japan.
The results of an online survey released earlier this week by Japanese advertisement and public relations agency Hakuhodo Inc show Osaka was considered by respondents the third most attractive location for a casino resort in Japan. Hakuhodo forecast that a casino resort in the city could attract around 13 million domestic visitors a year, generating sales of JPY1.9 trillion (US$18.5 billion), excluding shopping spending.
Melco Crown chief executive Lawrence Ho Yau Lung (pictured) said in September last year the company was ready to invest US$5 billion in a casino resort in Japan. The gaming operator currently operates two casino properties in Macau and is building a third one. It is one of the main investors in casino resort City of Dreams Manila, scheduled to open later this year in the Philippine capital.
Mr Nisbet however told the Sydney Morning Herald: “It is still very early and until the parliamentary debate is completed it is important we respect the Japanese processes.”
Casino legalisation in Japan will be a two-statute process. After an enabling bill legalising casino resorts at the conceptual level, a second piece of legislation would detail the specifics, including how they are administered and regulated.
The Cabinet Committee of Japan’s lower parliamentary chamber started discussions last month on the enabling bill. However, the Japanese parliament is now in recess.
GGRAsia has obtained a note of the main topics already discussed by the cabinet committee. In it, lawmakers give the clearest indication yet that they are interested in having foreign gaming operators involved in casino resorts. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said his party will seek to pass the enabling law to legalise casinos in the next session of parliament.
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