Last summer, lawmakers in Japan passed a bill that allows for three casinos to open. It’s the first time in history that Japan has legalized traditional casino gambling. This week, several of the top US casino companies began pouring on the pressure to start operating here.
Most analysts agree that Japan is one of the most lucrative new casino markets in the world. It makes sense that so many major gambling operators are working to establish a presence here. Which of these companies is most likely to be granted a gaming license?
Japanese Cities Lobby For the Right to Host Casino Resort
In July of 2018, Japan’s Parliament officially approved casinos to begin operating in the country. Under the new laws, three “integrated resorts” can open here. These casino-resorts must include several non-gambling options including hotels, shopping centers, and conference rooms.
Cities in Japan must formally receive government approval to open a casino. First, however, these cities need public approval. Several cities are already working for the right to host one of the three integrated resorts.
Yokohama Mayor Fumiko Hayashi has announced that she plans to lobby for a casino. This city is the third-largest in Japan and several of the top US casino companies have already requested to open an integrated resort here. Despite some residents here raising concerns over gambling addiction issues and crime associated with casinos, Fumiko is going ahead with the resort bidding process.
Osaka is another city that’s pushing hard to open a casino. MGM Resorts International has publicly stated that it hopes to begin operating here. Japan Today recently discussed Wynn Resorts new push to open a gambling establishment in this city, as well.
Top US Casino Companies Increase Pressure to Open Integrated Resorts
Japan is taking its casino regulations very seriously. The casino bill was passed in 2018, yet it’s unlikely that any casino-resorts will officially begin operating here until the mid-2020s. This isn’t stopping the biggest casino companies in the US from throwing their name into the mix.
Last July, members of Wynn Resorts held a seminar in Everett, Massachusetts to discuss the casino industry with members of the Japanese media. This city is home to Wynn’s newest resort, the Encore Boston Harbor. Chris Gordon, president of Wynn Resorts Development Japan, spoke to the media about his company’s plan to invest back into the Japanese community.
“We hope to get involved in projects in such major cities as Tokyo, Osaka, Yokohama,” he said.
Gordon also claims that casino-resorts in this city will create as many as 16,000 new jobs. The Wynn’s official also wanted to inform the media about the recent approval of casinos from Japanese students at Harvard University, located just miles away.
MGM Resorts and Las Vegas Sands are also working hard to break into Osaka. These companies are teaming up with local Japanese businesses to help lobby in parliament.
Which Company Will Receive a Casino License Here First?
At this point, it’s anyone’s guess. For a time, it seemed as if MGM Resorts International had the best chance. This company gained a sponsorship with the MLB during the season’s opening games in Tokyo. The marketing push gave MGM great exposure in the country.
Wynn Resorts is also gaining traction in Japan. By inviting members of the Japanese media to a seminar, it gives the company free advertising. The success of the Encore Boston Harbor hotel-casino is also likely to help their chances in this county.
Some gaming analysts feel that Las Vegas Sands is most-likely to receive the first gaming license in Japan. This is one of the top US casino companies operating today, and already has deep ties in Japan. Sheldon Adelson, CEO of LVS, sold the Comdex technology trade show to Japanese business conglomerate Softbank in 1995.
Yokohama is set to announce its candidacy to host an integrated resort this week. Smaller cities such as Hokkaido are also being targeted for a new casino. Make sure to stay tuned for more news on the Japanese casino industry over the next few months!