MGM Resorts International and Macau-based Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd are the front-runners to win a licence for an Osaka casino resort, if casino gambling is legalised in the country, the Japan Times reports citing unidentified officials.
The newspaper said Osaka Governor Ichiro Matsui and Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto on Tuesday reacted negatively to the idea of USJ Co Ltd, the operator of Hollywood-themed entertainment park Universal Studios Japan in Osaka, bidding for a casino licence.
USJ is seeking partners to bid for a casino licence in Osaka (pictured), reported Kyodo News, a Tokyo-based news agency, on Monday.
“I don’t have a relationship based on trust with USJ’s management,” Mr Hashimoto was quoted as saying.
Japan Times quoted Mr Matsui as saying: “USJ has no experience at all in the casino sector.”
Since 2010, Osaka officials have been in and out of court to try to force USJ to pay more for city property it leases, the newspaper added.
Osaka is planning to designate Yumeshima, a plot of reclaimed land on Osaka Bay, for a proposed integrated resort in the city if casino gambling is legalised.
The Cabinet Committee of Japan’s lower parliamentary chamber started discussions last month on a bill to legalise integrated resorts. However, the Japanese parliament – known as the National Diet – is now in recess, meaning the bill can only be fully debated by the lower and upper house at the next session in the autumn.
All the big Las Vegas operators as well as the currently Macau-only operators Galaxy Entertainment, Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd and SJM Holdings Ltd have expressed an interest in the Japan market.
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Analyst at Roth Capital Partners