There is intense competition to be among the first casinos granted a license in Japan. Hard Rock International have made it clear in the past they would want in on the bidding, and we know more now about their plans for an integrated resort (IR).
In a January 11 press release, Hard Rock details their plans for a Tomakomai, Hokkaido IR. The plans include monorail access to the airport, a guitar-shaped hotel tower, an additional Four Seasons hotel, an entertainment venue, theatres, a health and well-being center, and over 215,000 square feet of retail and dining space. The focus will be on an authentic Ainu (a local indigenous people) village experience.
The operator came prepared and isn’t messing around. They also announced partnerships with the New York Yankees and Nederlander Worldwide Entertainment, a company that focuses on Broadway Theater experiences.
At the recent Hokkaido Integrated Resort showcase, Jim Allen, CEO of Hard Rock, said:
“We are extremely excited about the prospect of introducing our Hard Rock family to the people of Hokkaido, Japan with this world-class entertainment resort. It will not only bring economic benefits to the local community, but also act as a gateway to learn more about the wonderful heritage of Japan and all that it has to offer.”
Although this is a big first announcement from Hard Rock, competition for the three available IR licenses will be fierce. Already announced for Hokkaido are the plans by Kamori Kanko, with a focus on outdoor activities like skiing, to capitalize on the cold winter months on the island. Rush Street has also announced they would like to operate out of Hokkaido, with less specifics for their plan.
It seems unlikely that Hokkaido will be granted all three IR licenses. Osaka is considered a favorite to nab a licenses, and has eleven suitors already. Yokohama and Tokyo are also in the running. When Japan finally does award licenses, they will not be wanting for choices.