Asian casino operator Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd appears to be stepping up its efforts to integrate into Japan’s business and tourism sectors as it pursues a gaming licence in that nation.
A Wednesday press release from the group identified Ako Shiraogawa as “president of the Japan office of Melco Resorts and Entertainment Japan”.
It also said the parent firm had become an official partner of Osaka-Kansai Japan Expo 2025. According to the event’s official website, the Expo will be held for 185 days that year and will showcase ideas about how future design and technology will affect human life. The organisers of the Expo estimate it will attract between 28 million and 30 million visitors.
A number of investment analysts covering the casino industry have identified the port city of Osaka (pictured) as a likely location for a casino resort.
Melco Resorts’ chairman and chief executive Lawrence Ho Yau Lung has recently given a number of interviews to media outlets, talking up the firm’s prospects of winning a Japan licence.
His Japan office president said in a prepared statement contained in Wednesday’s press release: “Our approach of bringing together a team of Japanese advisors, architects and executives will ensure that we keep Japanese culture and heritage at the heart of anything we build, while our global IR [integrated resort] expertise will ensure that anything we develop here can more than fulfil the government’s ambitions of establishing Japan’s newest world‐class tourist destination.”
Several other suitors for a Japan casino permit – including Hard Rock International, MGM Resorts International and Genting Singapore Plc, have also set up local units and in some cases appointed high-profile people to run them. In Hard Rock Japan’s case, it was Edward Tracy, formerly a senior executive with Macau operator Sands China Ltd, a unit of U.S.-based casino business Las Vegas Sands Corp, a firm that is also interested in having a Japan operation.
In August it was announced that Jason Hyland – a former charge d’affaires and deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in Japan – had been appointed representative officer and president of MGM Resorts Japan LLC.
A recent presentation in Tokyo from James Murren, chairman of MGM Resorts, indicated the opening date for an initial casino resort or resorts in Japan might be pushed out to the year 2025. Mr Murren had previously suggested a single resort in Japan could cost as much as US$10 billion.
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“Amendment to the gaming law is still a work in progress ... We need to wait for further details, in terms of the finer form that the amendments will take, and there will be additional regulatory measures that will be potentially issued thereafter”
Chief operating officer of Sands China