MGM Resorts International has indicated that any consortium it joins to bid for a casino license in Japan will lend up having a local operator as the consortium leader.
James Murren chairman of MGM Resorts International noted in a briefing held at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2017 Japan Conference last week that the company was dedicated to being a good partner in a Japanese-led consortium. He further added that the opening of the first casino project in Japan was likely to be pushed to 2025.
His presentation however did not offer any further details as to whether MGM Resorts was a part of any consortium nor was there any indication as to who the potential constituents could be. Several industry analysts from brokerage firms have highlighted the possibility that overseas casino operators will be restricted to minority holdings even if they are allowed to apply for casino licenses.
Since no official regulations for the licensing process have yet been issued, there is very little clarity over the process. There is also no indication as to whether the subsidiaries that have been set up in recent months in Japan by several major international casino operators will be considered as local or foreign companies.
Murren highlighted in his briefing that MGM Resorts had a long history of being a reliable partner in joint ventures. He made reference to the Macau casino project it runs with Chinese businesswoman Pansy Ho Chiu King. The joint venture was earlier a 50:50 arrangement but now MGM Resorts has a 56 percent ownership.
Murren’s briefing also included renderings of resort concepts for three casinos – one in Tokyo, one in Yokohama and one in Osaka. These cities have featured prominently in reports by industry analysts as being possible locations for new casinos.
The chairman of rival Wynn Resorts Ltd, Steve Wynn also named these three cities as probable locations for casinos. Las Vegas Sands Corp confirmed that its chairman Sheldon Adelson recently paid a visit to Tokyo and Osaka to get an update on the casino regulation process and to prepare his company accordingly.
The Japanese government is in the midst of developing a second legislative bill that will contain the regulatory framework for the newly legalized casino industry.
Japanese media recently reported that the ruling Liberal Democratic Party had agreed to a deal with coalition partner Komeito for the passage of the Integrated Resort Implementation Bill at the Extraordinary Session of Japan’s parliament which is scheduled to start this autumn.