March 31, 2019
Integrated casino resorts are moving closer to becoming a reality in Japan. While the Integrated Resort (IR) Implementation Bill was passed by Japan’s Diet last summer, it is anyone’s guess as to when the actual licenses, expected to be granted in Osaka, Tokyo, and Yokohama, will be awarded. In addition to one or two local Japanese firms such as Sega Sammy and Konami, the likes of global casino players MGM, Las Vegas Sands, Wynn and Caesars, are all pitching and lobbying furiously to win one of the coveted sites. Forecast to become the second largest gaming market in the world after Macau, and at least twice as large as Singapore, Japan has tentatively edged over the last few years towards legalising casino resorts while at the same time seeking to impose certain limitations in order to appease a nation concerned with the dangers of gambling addiction. Industry and government are making a concerted effort to overturn a negative perception of gaming and to better educate the general public on what exactly an IR comprises. In other words, pitching them as large scale entertainment venues centred on a comparatively small casino - in fact only up to 3% of floor space will be devoted to gaming. The huge amounts of patience, money and resources required on the part of these hopeful casino groups to get this far in the bidding process gives some idea as to the size of the potential payoff that is on offer.