Japan’s casino resort project narrows down three major cities

Tokyo, Yokohama, and Osaka are frontrunners in a bid to be Japan’s first casino resort city. Source: Reuters

AS Japan legalized casino gambling late last year, the country has big plans to design a large-scale casino project in a major city.

At the moment, Tokyo, Yokohama, and Osaka are likely candidates under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s detailed strategy to launch a high-profile casino city.

Bloomberg reported  most global casino resort operators have indicated interest in building resorts in those three cities, due to their large population sizes and proximity to international airports.

Many operators are keen on large cities to capitalise on their business models.

Marina Bay Sands CEO George Tanasijevich told the business daily, “The location that works best for our business model is the major cities, so we’re talking about Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka.

“We need to be in a major city that’s connected to a major international airport so we can bring in the millions of people we want to host at our property.”

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MGM Resorts International executive vice-president of global development Ed Bowers said, “It needs to be in a high-density population area, and obviously the ones to be mentioned are Tokyo, Osaka and Yokohama. So we’re focused on those three.”

Casino.org said as soon as Japan’s casino gambling became regulated, entertainment and resort conglomerates pounced on opportunities to invest in casino projects while lobbying took place almost immediately.

The article said large casino suitors such as “Vegas Sands, MGM, Wynn, Galaxy Entertainment, Hard Rock, and Melco are pledging multibillion-dollar investments should they receive necessary licenses”.

Japan’s casino city will model Las Vegas and other Western projects, with hotels, shops, restaurants, and conference spaces to be built into the resort.

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However, officials in local towns are concerned the new casino framework leaves them behind in the selection process and “undermines Abe’s goal of reviving rural areas”.

Yoshinobu Nisaka, governor of Wakayama prefecture in western Japan, said: “The guidelines have changed the power structure between operators and local governments.”