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Osaka is part of a Japanese ministry survey aimed at finding prime locations for integrated resorts. (Image: CNN)
A similar survey was conducted last year, but this time, MLIT will publicize the results. The agency did not say when data from this year’s observations will be released to the public.
For the Japanese government, timing is of the essence, and that’s the case for some of the cities bidding to become home to the country’s first integrated resorts. Osaka, the third-largest city in the Land of the Rising Sun, would like to see a gaming property up and running by 2025, when it hosts the World Expo.
MGM Resorts, a company that has made clear its intent to open a casino in Osaka, has previously said 2025 would be an ambitious timeline. The Japanese government is pushing to boost tourism to 60 million visitors annually by 2030, with integrated resorts seen as integral to that effort.
If there are multiple municipalities with the same customer draw, a faster opening schedule is advantageous in certification,” an MLIT minister told Inside Asian Gaming. “We would like the facility to open as far before 2030 as possible.”
The upcoming MLIT survey will include Osaka, Tokyo and Yokohma, widely viewed as the leading contenders for Japanese gaming properties, as well as secondary players such as Hokkaido, Nagasaki and Wakayama.
Where The Operators Want To Be
While MGM has made clear its intent to focus on Osaka, rival Las Vegas Sands recently removed that city from its list of preferred Japanese metropolitan areas, opting to hone in on the more heavily populated Tokyo and Yokohama.
The Yokohama Integrated Resort Industry Exhibition Executive Committee, a trade group based in Japan’s second-largest city, recently said it will hold an integrated resort conference there in January.
Earlier this month, Melco Resorts announced plans to open an office in Yokohama, and that operator also has corporate space in Tokyo and Osaka. The company has not overtly displayed a preference for a particular Japanese city over another.
Likewise, Wynn Resorts has played its cards close to its vest regarding plans in the world’s third-largest economy, opting only to say it would build the world’s largest casino in Japan, and that the project could cost up to $9 billion.
The MLIT is currently in the process of taking public comment on a basic policy draft on the integrated resort endeavor. The ministry plans to reveal those comments in November, with an eye toward revising the plan in early 2020.
The agency is reportedly working on the premise that construction of Japanese casinos will take three years, and expects to certify three locations by 2022 or early 2023.
Japan still needs to establish a casino management board, something that isn’t expected to happen until early next year.