Casino operator MGM Resorts International is expecting the Japanese national authorities to make an announcement in the autumn regarding the country’s first casino licences. That is according to the company’s chief financial officer, Jonathan Halkyard, who says the group anticipates being one of the pioneer operators of an integrated resort (IR) in that country.
Mr Halkyard was speaking on Monday at the Jefferies Global Consumer Conference.
On April 26, Osaka and Nagasaki prefectures respectively announced they had submitted to the national government their IR District Development Plans, in time for an April 28 deadline. They were the only local authorities to make bids.
A unit of MGM Resorts International and Japan’s Orix Corp are Osaka’s private-sector partners for the local tilt for an IR. The resort complex (pictured in an artist’s rendering) would – according to previous statements – require an initial investment of JPY1.08 trillion (US$8.0 billion, at current exchange rates), with a target date of 2029 for opening it.
In his Monday remarks, Mr Halkyard said MGM Resorts had “been working on Japan for many years,” adding that the group would expect a decision “in the September time frame” on whether the Osaka scheme has been approved by the national government.
“[We would expect] to be awarded a licence in the fall. We would then be under way as we get into 2023,” said the group’s CFO. “This is a large project; it’s going to take a number of years to complete.”
The executive said additionally that MGM Resorts would “wait until things are a bit more advanced before getting into the specifics about the [project’s] cost and programme.”
He added: “We think it’s a massive market opportunity for the company … and is going to be just a phenomenal integrated resort with strong returns.”
Earlier this month, a civil group in Osaka said it had collected 208,552 signatures and submitted them to the prefecture’s Election Administration Commission, aiming for a referendum on the metropolis’ procedures in seeking an IR. A prefecture-level referendum would need the support of the prefectural assembly.
The other local-government body in the metropolis – the Osaka city council – has already rejected an earlier attempt by anti-casino groupings to have a referendum on the IR topic.
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