Company Founder Vincent Tan said in a Bloomberg interview that he plans to engage in talks about the possibility of joining a casino development project in either of the North Asia countries. While it might be easier for Tan and Berjaya to gain entry into the South Korea casino market, the company does have 100 acres of land in the Okinawa prefecture in Japan that can be used as a site for a proposed gambling resort.
The latter scenario is contingent on whether the Japanese government approves a proposed legislation that would allow casinos in the country. The bill faces new delays and could be tabled for the next parliamentary session that begins early in 2015.
Tan remains optimistic that Japan would eventually open its doors to casinos, citing the enormous potential it has as one of the most highly regarded gambling markets in the world. “Casinos are no longer a very lucrative business unless you go to some countries like Japan” Tan told Bloomberg. “Lots of casinos still focus on high rollers but the mass market is still very big.”
This isn’t the first time Tan and Berjaya have been involved in the gambling and casino industry. The billionaire founder of Berjaya operates the Sports Toto Malaysia betting operation in the country and earlier this year, he disclosed his intention to build a second resort and casino in the country to break the current monopoly controlled by Genting Bhd, even though analysts have deemed that scenario as “highly unlikely”. Tan’s proposed resort and casino would include indoor and outdoor theme parks, retail and dining options and a convention center.
Tan was rejected when he applied to add a casino inside Berjaya Hills more than 10 years ago after protests from anti-casino groups torpedoed his bid. Although his plan to add a second resort and casino in Malaysia is unlikely to get anywhere, that hasn’t stopped him from looking at casino investments overseas. South Korea and Japan are the immediate targets, but those two destinations aren’t likely to be the only ones Berjaya will have its eyes on down the road.