United States-based tribal casino operator Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment has told GGRAsia it remains interested in Japan’s integrated resorts (IR) market, though the firm’s chief executive Mario Kontomerkos indicated the group didn’t wish to go into specifics about the locations on which it was focusing.
“While we are unable to confirm specific regional locations, Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment is a company that specialises in large-scale master-planned resort development in global destination markets, including a new, world-class integrated entertainment resort… located at one of the busiest airport hubs in Northern Asia,” stated Mr Kontomerkos.
The latter reference was to “Inspire”, a resort with a foreigner-only casino sited near South Korea’s main airport at Incheon, which Mohegan Gaming had previously mentioned was to open in 2022.
Some of Japan’s prefectures that are looking to host an IR – such as Nagasaki and Wakayama – have said they aim to launch later this spring a request-for-proposal (RFP) process soliciting interest from private-sector partners.
When asked by GGRAsia whether Mohegan Gaming was targeting any regional locations for an IR scheme – as large-scale tourism complexes with casinos are known in Japan – the firm’s CEO remarked to GGRAsia in an emailed response: “Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment is currently evaluating options in Japan.”
Mohegan Gaming had announced in late June last year it had interest in developing a casino resort in the city of Tomakomai, on Japanese island of Hokkaido. But the Hokkaido governor said in November that his administration was not pursuing an IR opportunity in Japan’s first round of market liberalisation.
Operators must partner with a local government and then the local authorities must approach the national government for the right to have a casino resort. The national government has said a maximum of three casino resorts will be permitted in Japan’s first wave of market liberalisation.
“We see Japan as a great source of opportunity for tourism and integrated entertainment resort development and will continue to seek large entertainment markets where our unique product can truly shine to sophisticated and mobile consumers,” Mr Kontomerkos stated to us in his reply.
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