Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International is willing to invest up to US$9.5 billion in Japan if casino gambling is legalised there, the firm’s chief executive, James Murren (pictured), told news agency Reuters. The investment could be done via a publicly traded real estate investment trust (REIT), he added.
Moves to allow casinos in Japan have failed for several years, but there have been recent reports that the Japanese parliament – a body known as the Diet – might debate the so-called Integrated Resorts Promotion Bill.
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 enabling bill – promoted by a cross-party selection of lawmakers – could be submitted for discussion during the extraordinary session of the Diet that runs until late November, according to several international media outlets.
Mr Murren said MGM Resorts would be willing to spend between JPY500 billion (US$4.7 billion) and JPY1 trillion on an integrated resort in Tokyo, Yokohama or Osaka. “We think there would be a tremendous amount of demand, and ultimately a public listing of these types of Japanese resorts would be very appealing,” the executive told Reuters.
MGM Resorts – the parent company of Macau-based MGM China Holdings Ltd – had previously flagged its desire to invest in a Japanese resort.
In a presentation in 2014, the company said it planned to bring together “a consortium of leading Japanese companies” for an eventual casino resort in Japan. The presentation also featured three artist’s impressions of such a venue, dubbed “MGM Osaka”.
MGM Resorts’ CEO additionally said that the company could spend JPY100 billion to JPY300 billion on a resort in a regional area of Japan. He said Hokkaido in northern Japan or the southernmost island of Kyushu were among the possible locations, although the company was mainly interested in a metro area. Mr Murren was speaking to Reuters after a closed-door discussion on Monday with Japanese and international businesses on casino resorts, said the media outlet.
Mr Murren said the investment in Japan could be done via a REIT, where an MGM-controlled operating company responsible for expenses and investment would pay rent to a property company owned by private investors and domestic and foreign companies.
“That could be an interesting way to expand the level of involvement, as there are many investors who are risk averse and looking for yield and others who are more risk tolerant,” he told Reuters.
A resort in Tokyo, Osaka or Yokohama could be built by 2022 or 2023, he added.
Other casino operators based either in Las Vegas or in Macau have also expressed an interest in developing casino resorts in Japan, including Las Vegas Sands Corp and Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd.
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