Banking group Nomura thinks the Japanese cities of Yokohama (pictured) and Osaka are “prime” targets for construction of casino resorts.
The Japanese institution noted that Nomura Real Estate Development Co Ltd is joining with seven local companies to build a passenger ship terminal with shopping mall and hotel in Yokohama, via a public-private partnership called “Yokohama Pier9”.
“We think Nomura Real Estate Development building strong relationships with retail, warehousing, and port companies in Yokohama might be a foundation for participating in integrated resort projects in Yokohama in future,” wrote Nomura analysts Daisuke Fukushima and Kentaro Maekawa in a Friday memo. The term “integrated resort” or “IR” is typically a euphemism in Japan and elsewhere for a large-scale venue with a casino and other tourism facilities.
“We think that Yokohama is a prime candidate for the construction of integrated resorts, along with Osaka,” said the Nomura analysts.
Ratings house Fitch Ratings Inc said in recent commentary that a piece of Japanese legislation called the Integrated Resorts (IR) Implementation Bill – likely now to be delayed until at least the spring of next year due to Japan’s snap election due this month – “would determine critical details including the number of casinos permitted and potential visitation restrictions for Japanese nationals”.
Nomura said in its commentary: “The dissolution of the [national parliament’s] lower house and general election mean that debate on the legislation and the selection of regions for integrated resorts is now more likely to be delayed. However, we think equity market interest in integrated resorts will increase again at some stage.”
The Yokohama cruise terminal plan will have five storeys of facilities above ground and a floor area of 28,600 square metres (307,848 sq feet) “with use due to start from around spring 2019,” according to the memo from the Nomura brokerage.
A recent presentation in Tokyo from James Murren, chairman of U.S. casino operator MGM Resorts International, indicated the opening date for an initial casino resort or resorts might be pushed out to the year 2025.
Brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein and Co LLC said in an October 3 report on the Chinese cruise tourism business that there was much room for growth in the market for Chinese tourists visiting Japan via cruise ship.
“As of now, from northern [Chinese] departure cities, the only destinations available within a five- to seven-day time frame are Japan, South Korea, Russia and Taiwan,” said the institution.
“Japan is the most popular cruise destination today, with one [Chinese] cruiser for around seven outbound Chinese travellers to that country,” stated Sanford Bernstein.
Gaming industry analysts have said that Chinese tourists are likely to be an important target market for Japanese casino resorts.
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"We’re going to know probably in the next three or four months what the timing is going to be for Osaka"
Chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International