Hard Rock Ventures Into Japan with Guitar-Shaped Casino Resort

Hard Rock Japan, the local arm of Florida-based gaming and hospitality company Hard Rock International, presented last week details about its proposed integrated resort in the city of Tomakomai on the island of Hokkaido

Hard Rock International CEO and Chairman Jim Allen offered a glimpse into his company’s World-Class Entertainment Resort concept during the Integrated Resort Showcase that took place on Hokkaido last week.

Among other things, Hard Rock’s Japanese resort would feature a guitar-shaped hotel, a Four Seasons-branded resort, an event venue, Broadway-style theaters, spa and wellness facilities, and 215,000 square feet of retail and fine dining space. The property will also have a casino, although details about it are yet to be released.

Mr. Allen unveiled multiple partnerships his company has secured as part of its bid to enter the Japanese gaming and hospitality market. The executive said last week that Hard Rock has expanded its existing deal with the New York Yankees to bring the NYY Steak and overall New York Yankee experience to its proposed Japanese destination resort.

The Florida-based business has also partnered HPL Hotel and Resorts to open a Four Seasons resort as part of the larger property.

Entertainment options at the Hard Rock resort would include a Rock’n’roll Hall of Fame that will aim to praise and popularize the musical accomplishments of Japanese, Asian, and global artists. Hard Rock has also joined forces with Nederlander Worldwide Entertainment to bring premier Broadway Theater experience to Hokkaido.

In addition, the recently revealed design of Hard Rock’s Japanese resort featured an “authentic Ainu village experience, designed to help raise awareness for the local indigenous Ainu people.”

<h2>Hard Rock’s Japanese Bid</h2>

Hard Rock is one of many major gambling and hospitality companies that have expressed interest in operating an integrated resort in Japan. The country legalized casino gambling not long ago, but is yet to open the bidding process for the three available gaming licenses.

Interested operators will be able to open casinos within larger integrated resorts. Under Japan’s recently adopted gambling laws, the gaming facilities will be allowed to occupy no more than 3% of the total area of the larger properties they will be part of.

The bidding process for the casino licenses is expected to be opened by the end of the year. Hard Rock will compete with the likes of MGM Resorts International, Las Vegas Sands, Caesars Entertainment Corp., and Genting Group for coveted permission to venture into Japan’s nascent casino market.

Commenting on their plans, Mr. Allen said last week that they are extremely excited “about the prospect of introducing [their] Hard Rock family to the people of Hokkaido,” and that their planned resort would not only bring economic benefits but will also “act as a gateway” to Japan’s “wonderful heritage” and all it has to offer.

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