Japan’s central government approved a $13.5 billion MGM casino resort for Osaka

Japan’s prime minister announced on Friday that a key committee had done so approved the development of an integrated casino resort (RI) in Osaka Prefecture.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced the decision of the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism’s Audit Committee to give the go-ahead after a meeting at the Integrated Resorts Promotion Headquarters.

MGM Resorts will participate in the transaction and own a substantial part of the project together with Orix Corporation, a Japanese financial company listed on the Tokyo and New York Stock Exchanges. The two companies will reportedly control 40% of the shares.

The complex is operated by a Newco. The consortium will include around 20 local companies.

Long way to Casino Resort in Osaka

Then comes the approval of the central government years of struggles and delays, as there were initial hopes that the supporting legislation and enactment could come in time for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Games to generate revenue from increasing tourism.

However, it was not until 2018 that the National Council (parliament) finally authorized the construction of integrated complexes (after supporting legislation was passed in 2016) as part of a tourist complex. It took a few more years before the complicated framework could be worked out and the right political coalitions found. The law, initially championed by former Prime Minister Abe, eventually came into force in 2021.

The massive casino complex on the artificial island of Yumeshima in Osaka Bay will not open until Osak County hosts the 2025 World Expo. While the target date and final construction cost estimates will certainly change over time, it is now expected that construction will cost around $10 billion and is set to open in 2029 or 2030. Current cost estimates range from $8.5 million to $13.5 billion (1.8 trillion yen).

Most multi-billion dollar casino developments around the world may open a temporary casino before the surrounding resort facilities are fully completed, but Japan is a law of its own on such matters. It is currently unclear how hotels and conference centers, shopping malls, museums and the ferry terminal will be phased in, or whether the casino will be allowed to open once certain benchmarks have been reached.

While various regions across the country were initially open to proposals, in recent years this has narrowed down to Osaka and possibly Nagasaki. The 2018 legislation authorized the construction of up to three RIs.

There are already more than 7,000 arcades in Japan

Although this will be Japan’s first legal casino, playing pachislo or pachinko slot machines, which resemble upright pinball machines, has always been a cultural exception. As of 2021, players left up to 14.6 billion yen in these machines.

More than 7,000 arcades offering these games are scattered throughout the county, particularly in high-traffic areas such as near train stations. Other forms of gambling that were permitted prior to the passing of the casino laws include horse racing, motorcycle and motor boat racing, bicycle racing betting and a restricted form of soccer betting, and the lottery.

The MGM/Orix resort is expected to attract around 20 million visitors to the area annually, who are expected to spend up to US$8.5 billion (1.14 billion yen) each year once the resort fully opens is. The maximum employment level for the entire facility is expected to reach 15,000.

Japanese citizens have to pay a fee for every 24 hours they spend at a casino, and there is one Limit number of times that can be visited Family members may request that any member be barred from entering the venue.

Nagasaki is still “in the running”

Asian media reports indicate that while Nagasaki is still “in the running” for a second IR for Japan, the issue was not raised at Friday’s meeting. However, GGRAsia informed who has confirmed with local officials that the Nagasaki authorities are still in discussion with central government officials about their plan for a casino complex.

According to currently known plans, the Nagasaki casino complex is to be built in the city of Sasebo next to the Huis Ten Bosch amusement park.

Announcing the RI’s approval, Prime Minister Kishida said: “The Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism decided to certify the Osaka area development plan. Osaka RI will contribute to the development of the Kansai region and the growth of Japan after Expo Osaka-Kansai 2025. It is hoped that it will become a tourist base, bringing the charm of Japan to the world.”

Previously, Brian Sandoval, President of Global Game Development at MGM Resorts said: “We want to offer our guests a new RI destination experience that is uniquely Japanese. Japan is advanced in technological innovation. It is also known for being best in class in terms of hospitality, rich in art, culture and food. We respect the spirit of “Omotenashi” and the living Japanese traditions. We have already learned so much from Japan that we have been able to export to other markets where we operate.”

Spring: Japan authorizes construction of first casinoThe Guardian, April 14, 2023

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