Melco Resorts & Entertainment Names Osaka Preferred Destination for Casino Resort

Melco Resorts & Entertainment Ltd. owner Lawrence Ho told Bloomberg that the ideal scenario for his company would be to be allowed to build an integrated resort in Osaka, in case it wins one of the two Japanese casino licenses to be issued by the country’s government.

The Hong Kong businessman further dwelt on the topic, saying that Osaka and the Kansai region are “more fun” than Tokyo, for example, and it is is exactly fun and entertainment that Melco is focused on.

Casino gambling was legalized in Japan last December. The country’s government now has to pass a second legislative piece, one that will determine how the industry will be regulated and guarded from wrongdoing and where casinos will be located. It is expected that two licenses for the construction of two casino resorts will be issued initially.

Major casino operators have expressed interest in entering the country’s market even before it is officially opened, with Melco itself, Las Vegas Sands, Hard Rock International, and MGM Resorts International being few of those. Melco currently operates casino resorts in Macau and the Philippines.

Although it is too early to predict where exactly Japan’s two casino resorts will be located, it is believed that Tokyo and Osaka have huge chances to be among the preferred destinations. Mr. Ho noted that they are not scrapping Tokyo plans completely, yet they would be happier if they get the nod for a development project in Osaka.

According to the casino executive, Tokyo may not need an integrated resort. The city and the surrounding region are home to almost a third of Japan’s population. Being the country’s capital, it is also a financial and political center.

Mr. Ho said in his interview with Bloomberg that Tokyo is an amazing city. However, similarly to London and New York, it is crowded with numerous other, non-gambling, opportunities that could overshadow an integrated resort. Osaka, on the other hand, has quite a lot of room for development and is a major shopping destination and tourist attraction for visitors from China. That same customer cohort is also known for its tastes for high stakes casino action.

The Melco owner also revealed that they have been in talks with potential Japanese partners. Mr. Ho told Bloomberg that an agreement is yet to be signed and they are still in search for the most suitable partner to join forces with in a potential Japanese development. With fellow casino operators discussing local partnerships, the Hong Kong businessman compared the process to “speed dating”. It seems that big casino industry names are courting the same Japanese companies in a bid to land the best possible deals that will help them secure a good position in what is believed to turn into a $20-billion casino market.

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