Caesars to MGM in talks with Osaka on $4.8 billion casino plan
Caesars Entertainment Corp., Genting (GENS) Singapore Plc and MGM Resorts International are in discussions with the Osaka government on plans for a 500 billion yen ($4.8 billion) casino resort.
Officials met with Caesars and Genting last year and are scheduled to sit down with MGM in the next few months as Japan?s second-biggest metropolis expects Japan to end its ban on casinos, Osaka Prefecture Governor Ichiro Matsui said in an interview. ?It?s just a matter of time before casinos are legalized,? he said.
A gambling complex on reclaimed land Osaka owns would lure investment and tourists to a region battling for projects that may otherwise go to Tokyo, Matsui said. Lawmakers from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and the Japan Restoration Party have said they aim to legalize casinos in a Diet session starting this month.
?Even before the casino bill is passed, Osaka is crafting details of the resort plan so that we could embark on the project at any time,? Matsui, 49, said in Osaka on Jan. 20. ?We?d need global casino-operators? involvement and expertise as the business is new to Japan,? said Matsui, who also is secretary-general of the Japan Restoration Party.
An Osaka gambling resort would probably reap annual gross gaming revenue of as much as $5 billion, according to a report compiled by CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets. Land in Osaka?s bayside area cost about one-10th as much as parcels in Tokyo?s Odaiba area, where Mitsui Fudosan Co., the country?s biggest developer, is among companies proposing entertainment resorts.
?Caesars takes its cues from both the local government as well as local partners, and accordingly, have toured some of the potential sites in Osaka Bay,? said Steven Tight, president for international development at Las Vegas-based Caesars. He confirmed that the casino operator met with Osaka officials last year and said they have been in talks to pursue an integrated resort in Tokyo and Osaka for more than 10 years.
Tight said in September the company was talking with potential local partners including gaming machine makers Sega Sammy Holdings Inc. (6460) and Konami Corp.
Osaka is close to selecting Yumeshima, a reclaimed island in Osaka Bay, as the proposed casino resort site, following discussions with Mayor Toru Hashimoto, Matsui said. The governor?s envisioned plan calls for completion of a casino resort before the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
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