MGM CEO: only two Japanese IRs likely to be built

Japan expects to grant three licences to develop integrated resorts.
Japan expects to grant three licences to develop integrated resorts.

Bill Hornbuckle, MGM president and CEO, has said he believes Japan will only build two IRs in the first round of development.

Japan.- Bill Hornbuckle has said he believes only two of Japan’s prefectures will continue to bid to host one of the three integrated resorts Japan plans to permit.

Hornbuckle said he thinks Nagasaki and Wakayama may not be able to meet the national government’s requirements in terms of non-gaming facilities and other matters. That would leave Osaka and Yokohama as the only contenders, resulting in Japan being able to launch just two instead of three IRs if both bids were approved.

Hornbuckle said the delay caused by the Covid-19 pandemic had allowed MGM to redesign its integrated resort plan. However, he remarked the process has been difficult and long.

MGM, in colaboration with Orix, is the sole bidder to be chosen as Osaka’s private operator partner.

Osaka had wanted its operators to add more MICE facilities beyond the requirements of national legislation but, according to Hornbuckle, MGM-Orix’s IR may have less MICE space and fewer hotel rooms than expected.

However, he said it would still meet the minimum requirements of the central government.

In April, Moody’s Investors Services said it expects MGM Resorts International to continue seeking IR opportunities, not only in Macau but in other parts of the world.

Current state of Nagasaki and Wakayama IR developments

Despite Hornbuckle’s opinions, Nagasaki‘s IR bid has made most progress. Three operators have been selected as potential partners to develop an integrated resort at the site of the Huis Ten Bosch theme park in Sasebo.

Oshidori International HoldingsCasinos Austria International and Niki Chau Fwu Group have entered a competitive dialogue with the prefecture and city.

The companies will now have to submit secondary examination documents. Nagasaki is due to select its final candidate in August.

As for Wakayama, authorities are reported to have accepted a consortium headed by the Canadian private equity firm Clairvest Neem Ventures as its private operator partner.

The prefecture was left with little choice after Suncity Group, the only other contender, withdrew from the process last month due to uncertainty caused by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

At first, Wakayama’s governor expressed doubts about the possibility of moving forward with one IR contender

He stated: “If it is very unlikely that the area development plan we propose to the national Government will pass, then we will not select this operator.”

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