The Japanese government has given the go-ahead for the country’s its first casino, 14 April. It will be part of an integrated resort to open in Osaka in 2029.
The integrated resort will include a conference centre, exhibition hall, hotel and theatre on a 492,000sqm site. The Osaka Prefecture had bid in partnership with MGM to construct an integrated resort (IR) on Yumeshima, an artificial island in Osaka Bay. The project is expected to carry a US$8.1bn price tag. MGM Resorts is leading the consortium with its primary Japanese partner, Orix Corporation – a financial services group headquartered in Osaka. MGM and Orix are 40-40 partners with the remaining 20% ownership stake spread among 20 other Japanese-based entities, including Panasonic, Kansai Electric Power, and West Japan Railway.
The local city government expects the resort to attract 20 million guests and generate 520 billion yen (US$3.9bn) in revenue a year.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said “An integrated resort is important for attracting many tourists, both domestic and international, and to pursue the goal of being a tourism-oriented nation”.
Asia and its casinos have seen a big dip in numbers of Chinese tourists and are showing a relatively slow recovery compared to cities like Las Vegas. However, Osaka is expecting 70% of visitors to the resort in its first three years will be domestic. Osaka is home to Universal Studios Japan and is less than an hour away from Kyoto, a popular site for tourists.
The Japanese public has traditionally opposed the building of casinos in the past although a majority seems to have formed around the idea of licensing properly regulated gambling as a means of attracting more tourism spend.