Prominent Macau junket Suncity wants to get in on the gambling action in Japan. It has formed an alliance with several unidentified Japanese companies that will study the possibility of applying for one of the few casino licenses to be issued by the country. The news came by way of an interview at G2E Asia with the company’s executive director, Andrew Lo.
Lo further stated that the size of the investment will be predicated on the location of the resort, as well as the final design of the casino legislation. He said during the interview with Asia Gaming Brief, “We are just beginning. We are willing to spend some expenses, form a consortium and hire a few guys to try to understand more because the rules and policies aren’t that ready yet.
“A committee asked me what am I going to invest. I said if you give me a big plot of land in front of the palace I’m going to invest $50 billion, if they give me a remote island I may consider $500 million,” Lo added.
The final touches are currently being added to Japan’s Integrated Resort (IR) Implementation Bill. Legislators are addressing how the industry should be governed and responding to concerns that have been raised over some of the bill’s amendments. Questions regarding license renewal periods and procedures, a 3% cap on the casino floor size and high tax rates are some of the issues that still need to be ironed out before the legislation is approved.
Several casino operators have mentioned that they are prepared to pay just about anything to gain a foothold on the Japanese casino market; however, Lo is taking a more pragmatic approach. He indicated that a tax rate set too high could be a deal-breaker, leading him to consider investments in smaller projects in other parts of Asia.
Suncity is already looking to gain more control in some parts of Asia. It currently has a contract to run a casino in Van Don in Northern Vietnam and a 34% stake in central Vietnam’s Hoiana casino. The company has sought diversification in an effort to maintain full operational control over those properties to which it takes VIP clients.
The Hoiana casino is expected to open in the second to third quarter of next year. There will be 140 tables, of which 50% will be for mass market clients and the other 50% for VIPs. Lo stated that the projected table roll is around $100 million per table, explaining that this is a conservative figure. The Crown Casino in Danang, where Suncity has operated a single room for the past year and a half, brings in $200 million a table.