Japan bidding process likely to start in late 2019

Lawrence Ho said that the bidding process to obtain a casino licence in Japan will likely start late 2019.

Japan.- Chairman and Chief Executive of Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd, Lawrence Ho, has highlighted the legislation process in Japan, as last week the parties and the cabinet found common ground to move forward with an IR bill.

The executive said that the bidding process for a casino licence in Japan will likely start late next year, maybe even later. “Last week was a big moment in the IR [integrated resort] legislation process in Japan, because the parties, the cabinet agreed to submit the bill to the Diet,” said Ho to Bloomberg.

Last Friday, the Japanese government endorsed its integrated resorts (IR) Implementation Bill and submitted it to the Diet for voting. The bill is running a race against the clock as it needs to be passed before the current session ends on June 20th in order to get the casino industry regulated this year.

“With Japan, it’s always a lot of consensus building. I’ve been lobbying there for over 12 years and I am very respectful of the process they want to take, and we are very interested,” said Ho, who said multiple times that Melco Resorts considers itself a candidate to receive a casino licence. “If it takes two years, five or 10 years from now, I’ll be there… because we are so committed to it,” he added.

Ho said even if the Diet passes the IR Implementation Bill this year, legislators still need time to draft the laws, set up the gaming commission, all the compliance and regulatory areas, and still pick the cities that will host a casino resort. “So I think the soonest that the bidding process can really start is probably the end of next year or even 2020,” he added.

Shinzo Abe, Japan’s Prime Minister, highlighted the bill’s impact on tourism and projected it will have visitors from all over the world visiting the country to visit the soon-to-be-built casino resorts. The bill sets a nationwide three casino cap, in addition to a fixed tax rate of 30 per cent on GGR generated by casino resorts. It also sets a €45 casino entry fee for locals and limits casino visits to three times a week and 10 times a month.

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