MGM Resorts International, through its MGM Japan subsidiary, has been cleared to move forward with presenting its JPY1.08 trillion (US$8.8 billion) integrated resort (IR) concept to Japan’s central government.
MGM is leading a consortium with Japanese financial services group Orix Corporation to bid on one of the country’s three forthcoming IR opportunities. The MGM-Orix joint venture has proposed constructing a casino complex on Osaka’s Yumeshima Island.
The Osaka Prefecture Assembly last week ratified the region’s “IR District Development Plan.” The Osaka City Council gave its blessing to the document today.
MGM and Orix are to be equal 40-40 partners in the scheme. The remaining 20% stake in the almost $9 billion undertaking will be held by nearly two-dozen local investors and entities.
The complex, as last detailed by MGM in September of 2021, includes 2,500 guestrooms spread among three distinct hotels. The facility plan additionally calls for 400,000 square feet of meeting and convention space and a 3,500-seat theatre.
MGM Follows Through on Pledge
MGM Resorts has been steadfast in its desire to invest in Japan. The Las Vegas Strip bigwig certainly wasn’t alone when Japan motioned to authorize as many as three IR developments through its July 2018 commercial casino law.
Las Vegas Sands, Wynn Resorts, Hard Rock International, and Melco Resorts are just a few of the marquee names that had also expressed interest nearly four years ago. But much of that enthusiasm has since been curbed, with Japan’s lengthy rulemaking process and COVID-19 being two of the principal culprits.
As many once-interested casino groups folded on Japan, MGM stayed the course. Despite the hardships in arriving at this milestone, MGM remains optimistic about the opportunity to conduct casino operations in Japan.
MGM forecasts that its IR on Yumeshima Island will attract 20 million visitors annually, employ around 15,000 people, and help promote tourism throughout Japan.
The company adds that it will support and facilitate the formation of a “Showcase of Japanese Tourism” initiative in the area surrounding the resort. The goal of the marketing program, MGM explains, is to “establish Osaka as a gateway for wider tourism in Japan.” Related facilities are to include the Kansai Tourism Center, Garden Theater, Japan Food Pavilion, and Kansai Art & Culture Museum.
Casino Details Remain Limited
Japan’s central government is fielding IR bids until April 28. Only three prefectures are expected to bid. Wakayama and Nagasaki are the other two.
The liberalization of commercial casino gambling with slot machines and table games isn’t overly popular among the general public. Many Japanese citizens say pachinko parlors already cause enough societal harm to those who are addicted to slot-like arcade games.
As a result, Japanese lawmakers have routinely expressed that the casino component of the multibillion-dollar resorts will be minimal. The country’s gaming law limits the size of the casino space to no more than 3% of the IR’s total indoor square footage.
In announcing its winning of the Osaka IR bid last September, MGM stayed mum on what the casino might look like. In fact, the word “casino” and “gaming” are entirely absent from the MGM press release celebrating its selection as Osaka’s integrated resort partner.
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