Fourteen weeks after unveiling a plan to bring a multi-billion-dollar integrated casino resort to Osaka and the man behind Melco Resorts And Entertainment Limited has reportedly explained why he believes the port city would trump Tokyo as a home for one of Japan’s first Las Vegas-style gambling-focused venues.
According to a report from the Bloomberg news service, Lawrence Ho Yau Lung, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for Melco Resorts And Entertainment Limited, wants to be given permission to build an integrated casino resort on the man-made Yumeshima Island in Osaka Bay or in the central Umekita district of the Kansai city.
However, the Hong Kong-based firm, which already operates the Studio City Macau and City Of Dreams Manila properties along with the City Of Dreams Macau and Altira Macau venues, is reportedly competing against the likes of MGM Resorts International, Crown Resorts Limited, Las Vegas Sands Corporation and Galaxy Entertainment Group Limited for one of up to three casino licenses the government is expected to authorize by 2019. The others are among a plethora of foreign firms allegedly looking at sites in and around Tokyo in hopes of cashing in on a market that could be worth up to $25 billion a year.
Bloomberg reported that the Kansai region around Osaka, which is about an eight-hour drive from Tokyo, is already home to numerous tourist attractions such as Universal Studios Japan and the many Buddhist temples of Kyoto while it is moreover a prime shopping destination that is popular with tourists from China.
By contrast, the news service reported that Tokyo serves as the island nation’s political and financial center and is headquarters to some of the world’s largest companies including the likes of Sony Corporation, Hitachi Limited and SoftBank Group Corporation.
“When you go to the Kansai region, it’s more fun, really, and we’re a company that focuses on fun and entertainment,” 40-year-old Ho told Bloomberg. “I’m not so sure Tokyo needs an integrated resort. Tokyo by itself is amazing. It’s like when people ask me “do you think New York and London need an integrated resort?” No, they don’t.”
Bloomberg reported that Western-style integrated casino resorts typically include multiple hotels, shops, and conference spaces, which means that the relatively cheaper price for land in Osaka could also be a reason why Melco Resorts And Entertainment Limited is championing the city of about 2.7 million people over metropolitan Tokyo with its population of approximately 39 million.
“Tokyo’s inflated commercial land prices are higher than the rest of Japan,” read a report from Bloomberg Intelligence analysts Margaret Huang and Carmen Lee. “That may dissuade casino operators from developing an integrated resort there, even with the city’s population and infrastructure.”
Bloomberg reported that official guidelines published earlier this month mean that operators and municipalities are being required to team up in order to submit concrete proposals for the right to host one of the nation’s coming integrated casino resorts. This has allegedly led to fierce competition as casino firms attempt to woo host cities.
“Right now, there is a lot of speed dating,” Ho told the news service. “Sometimes, I go into a Japanese corporate’s office and then I walk out and I see our competitors in the lobby.”