Caesars betting big on Japan with two resorts

By Robert Simmons
Global hotel and casino operator Caesars Entertainment Corporation has presented plans to build two integrated resort developments in the Japanese cities of Osaka and Tomakomai.

According to reports in local media, the company is ready to invest between $5 and $10bn on the construction of an integrated resort development in Japan; this follows the Japanese Diet’s decision to legalise casino gambling in 2016.

The company officially submitted a proposal to the city of Tomakomai on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, which included designs of the entire site and details of the resort facilities. It features a volcano-like fountain surrounded by a hotel, theatre and conference complex designed to represent the island as a whole.

In response to an inquiry from Asia Gaming Brief, a spokesperson for Caesars explained: “We spent several months researching the market to create an initial proposal that we hope is sensitive to the local context and responsive to the specific objectives and concerns of the local government, such as ensuring the development is in ‘harmony with nature,’ brings back high-quality jobs to the city, promotes regional tourism, and spreads the economic benefits throughout Hokkaido.”

The second proposed integrated resort development is in the coastal port town of Osaka, and is a concept that combines entertainment and health with an emphasis on the promotion of medical tourism, with extensive medical facilities located on-site.

William Shen, Managing Director of Caesars Entertainment Japan, expanded on the concept saying: “We did share our proposed concept for an Osaka IR which is anchored around the three pillars of Wellness, MICE, and Entertainment; and we have also presented the concept at a couple of forums over the past few months.

“Based on what we have heard, we believe we are the only major operator proposing an IR centred around wellness - a concept which we believe is in line with Kansai region's long history of leadership in the medical and healthcare industry as well as reinforcing the theme of Osaka’s proposal for 2025 World Expo.”

In what will be a boost to local businesses, Caesars have confirmed that while they will operate the casino sites, they will leave the development of facilities and surrounding infrastructure to mainly Japanese companies.

One of Caesars' main competitors in Japan, the MGM Resorts group, has already submitted similar integrated resorts proposals to a number of local governments in Yokohama, Wakayama and the Japanese capital Tokyo. Wynn Resorts are also rumoured to be circling those cities with casino proposals, and Hard Rock have today launched a bid to develop an integrated resort in Yokohama..

However Japan is still yet to agree the full legislative and regulatory framework in which its new casino industry will operate. The first implementation bill is set for debate in the next legislative session of the Japanese Diet, due to commence in 2018. Barring more constitutional delays, the first resorts should begin to open in Japan in 2023 and 2024.


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