Osaka’s dreams of becoming home to a multibillion-dollar integrated resort (IR) took a major step forward this week, with the prefecture’s legislative assembly ratifying the MGM Resorts-led development plan.
A consortium from MGM Resorts and Japanese financial services firm Orix has proposed building a JPY1.08 trillion (US$9.1 billion) on Osaka’s Yumeshima Island.
The prefecture’s 84-member lawmaking body, which is controlled by the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito Party, today voted heavily in favor of moving forward the casino blueprint — officially known as the “IR District Development Plan.” GGRAsia first reported on the Osaka assembly backing the IR project.
The assembly vote came during the legislature’s final session day.
Japan legalized as many as three commercial IR developments in July of 2018. Four years later, the central government is only now fielding casino submissions from interested prefectures and their preferred development group. The submission period runs through April 28.
Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (MILT) will grade each IR submission out of a possible score of 1,000 points. But with only three prefectures currently interested — Wakayama and Nagasaki being the other two — the odds of each prefecture receiving an IR concession are seemingly strong.
With the assembly’s blessing, Osaka is closer to submitting MGM/Orix’s $9.1 billion scheme to MILT for consideration. But concerns linger.
MGM and Orix reps last week attended a site suitability meeting with the Osaka City Council. Soil contamination fears, as well as the stability of the island, were raised. Orix Executive Officer Toyonori Takahashi seemed to agree with city officials that the island isn’t ideal for the IR.
Yumeshima is already sinking. We are now conducting additional boring surveys. The next step is to figure out whether or not we can design a building that the island can withstand,” Takahashi said.
Pressed as to whether MGM/Orix could use the land issues as an escape clause should the development opportunity further lose appeal, MGM Japan CEO Ed Bowers said that is unlikely.
“We have been working on this for years. Simply giving up is not something we are considering,” Bowers said.
City Approval Needed
The Osaka City Council has yet to approve the IR project by way of the IR District Development Plan. The document remains unendorsed on grounds that Yumeshima Island isn’t fit for such a large-scale build.
The City Council remains in session through March 29. Last month, the council did sign the prefecture’s “Basic Agreement” IR development contract with the MGM consortium. The prefecture has set aside nearly $1.4 billion to assure Yumeshima Island’s safety and capability of hosting the casino.
The latest IR details call for three separate hotels collectively offering 2,500 guestrooms, a 3,500-seat theater, dozens of restaurants, retail shopping, fitness and spa venues, convention space, and wedding facilities.
Specifics of the casino component have not been detailed. But Japan’s casino law limits the square footage of the gaming floor to no more than 3% of the resort’s total indoor space.
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