MGM, one of the largest casino companies in the US, has submitted a formal bid to construct Japan’s first casino. MGM Resorts International has partnered with a Japanese financial services provider, Orix Corp., to submit its bid to build a casino in Osaka, the country’s third-largest city.
MGM does not intend to cut any corners with a planned price tag of $9.08 billion in construction costs. If all goes as planned, Osaka’s Governor reports that the casino may open in the latter half of the 2020s.
It also looks like MGM will not be expecting much competition as, according to Osaka’s Governor, no other company is planning on pursuing a casino license in the city. Plus, though Osaka is only the third-largest city in Japan, it is the second largest with any plans for a casino.
The other city with some possibility of housing a casino is Yokohama, the second-largest city in Japan, short of Tokyo. Yokohama has close proximity to the larger city and would likely benefit greatly from players coming in from the capital. This would also likely reduce any pressure on the latter city to build its own casino.
However, these plans in Yokohama are far from certain as the city’s mayor will be running for re-election this fall. If the current mayor fails to be re-elected, it is expected that any plans to build a casino will be called off, and likely this will leave one of Japan’s several other sizable cities such as Nagasaki or Wakayama with a shot at claiming a casino of their own.
For Osaka’s casino, the city’s officials chose to offer MGM a patch of public land for it to be constructed on. This land will actually be an artificially constructed patch located in the Osaka Bay dubbed Yumeshima or, as it is more commonly known, “Dream Island.”
The announcement of this plan came quickly after the passage of Japan’s Integrated Resorts Implementation Act during the previous week. This law permits casino gambling so long as it comes from a licensed provider. This law came simultaneously to a number of others in order to regulate the country’s newest industry.
This new law allows companies to submit plans and set aside resources in order to prepare for constructing a casino; however, they will need to wait until October to get started, when Japan begins accepting applications for licenses.
Though MGM looks to be in a hurry to get started entering the Japanese market, some other companies such as Las Vegas Sands Corp. and Caesars Entertainment have already abandoned proposals for integrated resorts in the country. Outside of MGM, there are not many companies left with the budget for a similarly large-scale project.