Casino operators continue sucking up to Osaka

Casino operators continue sucking up to Osaka

It’s no secret that Osaka is a key battleground for casino operators in Japan. With around 8.8 million people living in the region, it is the country’s third most populated prefecture. It is also rumored to be one of the top three locations on the short list of cities that could play host to an integrated casino resort. As casino operators vie for position and attempt to stand out above the rest, many are putting everything on the line to try to capture attention.

Casino operators continue sucking up to OsakaLast month, during Osaka’s July summer festival, Melco sponsored a massive fireworks show. Not to be outdone, MGM brought in the Blue Man Group and also hosted a boat party.

Melco and MGM are competing against a number of other operators to try and win the coveted license. Las Vegas Sands, Wynn Resorts, Genting Group, Caesars Entertainment and Galaxy Entertainment are also on the list as possible candidates once lawmakers begin the licensing process. Since May 2017, executives from 11 different casino companies have met with Osaka’s governor, Ichiro Matsui, 119 times.

Melco sweetened the pot by donating around $450,000 to a fund established for the victims of the major earthquake this past June. Ako Shiraogawa, who heads Melco’s Japan office, tried to downplay the donation, stating, “It looks like we are doing too much. But it just happened to be the same day as the festival.”

A casino in Osaka could bring a windfall to the lucky winner. According to Morgan Stanley, an Osaka casino could potentially generate as much as $4 billion annually in gross gambling revenue. It’s because of this that companies like MGM and Sands have announced plans to build resorts worth as much as $10 billion if awarded a license. Melco’s Lawrence Ho has been a little more subdued, saying that he “prefers not to constrain our dreams with price tags.”

The licensing process hasn’t even begun yet. Additionally, the final cities have still not been selected. There are still a number of issues that need to be addressed before the process begins. Other cities, such as Tokyo and Yokohama, are also possibly being considered for a casino, but neither has stepped forward to say that it definitely wants to participate.