The deputy chairman of Macau-based casino operator Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd, Francis Lui Yiu Tung, says the fact that the number of Japanese cities in the race to host one of the country’s first casino resorts is increasing should be viewed as positive news.
“We are encouraged to see that in recent weeks more cities are considering entering the race for an integrated resort (IR),” Mr Lui (pictured in a file photo) told GGRAsia in an emailed statement.
He added: “Competition is always good for business, as it will be for the IR process in Japan. It will ensure Japan gets the most impressive and innovative IRs ever built.”
Mr Lui’s comments came after the mayor in the city of Yokohama, Japan’s second-largest metropolis by population, publicly declared last week – for the first time – support for getting a casino resort there.
In his emailed comments, Mr Lui added that Galaxy Entertainment continued “to carefully study the candidate cities, and learn from all persons connected with the process with the aim of developing a global landmark integrated resort” in Japan.
Large-scale casino resorts – typically including big hotels, conference facilities and shops and known locally as integrated resorts or “IRs” – have been presented by Japan’s national government as a useful form of economic stimulus and a way to boost inbound international tourism.
Would-be host communities must first find private-sector partners, and then apply to the national government for the right to have such a facility. But they can only do so after Japan’s central government announces the details of a so-called “IR basic policy”.
Japan’s IR Implementation Act, passed in July last year, stipulates that the basic policy for the development of integrated resorts should be put forward within two years. Japanese media outlet Sankei Shimbun reported earlier this month – citing unnamed sources – that the national authorities planned to have such policy on IRs ready by March-end next year.
Up to three IRs will be permitted in a first stage of market liberalisation. Some of the places in Japan in the race to host a casino resort include Osaka, Nagasaki and Wakayama.
United States-based casino firm Las Vegas Sands Corp – one of the contenders for a Japan casino licence – announced last week it would focus on the Japanese cities of Tokyo and Yokohama in its effort to be allowed to build a casino resort in that country. In a press release, the company announced it would no longer pursue such an opportunity in Osaka.
A note earlier this month from brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd, said that two big-city IRs – possibly Yokohama and Osaka – and one in a smaller regional centre, might eventually generate in aggregate, gross gaming revenue (GGR) of US$7 billion to US$8 billion per year.
Galaxy Entertainment has previously declared itself a contender for a casino licence in Japan. The firm has also hired Ted Chan Ying Tat, a former senior executive of its Macau market rival Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd, as chief operating officer of its Japan development team.
Galaxy Entertainment has confirmed it hopes to collaborate with Monaco casino firm Société des Bains de Mer et du Cercle des Étrangers à Monaco, and Japanese partners, to bid for a Japan licence.
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