Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment held a press event last Friday in order to lay out its vision for an integrated resort (IR) in Japan. It has its eyes set on Tomakomai in Hokkaido, the country’s northernmost prefecture, and is ready to do whatever is necessary to make its dream of operating one of the first three IRs in the country come true.
If Mohegan is successful in its bid to put a resort in Tomakomai, it is prepared to spend between $3.5 and $4.5 billion to make it happen, according to Nippon news outlet. The venue, which the company asserts would need to employ between 5,000 and 7,000 workers, would include a museum to celebrate both the Mohegan Tribe, a recognized tribe in Connecticut, as well as the Ainu people, an indigenous Japanese tribe. The company adds that, in addition to the casino, there would be three hotel buildings, an arena, a conference center and areas for cross-country skiing, farming and horseback riding.
The area chosen for the IR is a heavily forested one, which isn’t a deterrent for Mohegan. The company’s CEO, Mario Kontomerkos, explained at the event that Mohegan has ample experience operating venues in natural settings and welcomes the opportunity to do the same in Japan.
Mohegan is facing some stiff competition for the IR license. Both Hard Rock International and Rush Street Gaming have expressed their interest in Tomakomai, as well. Hard Rock wants to build a venue that includes a guitar-shaped hotel, Broadway-style theaters, a Four Seasons-branded resort, an event venue and 215,000 square feet of retail shops and restaurants. Rush Street, which is only considering Hokkaido as a potential target, opened an office in Tomakomai last year in order to solidify its commitment to the area.
Japan hasn’t yet officially launched the bidding process for the three IR licenses. Delays have come due to several challenges and the three destinations where the venues could be located have not yet been chosen. However, Hokkaido, along with Osaka, is one of the locations that has continuously been on the short list of choices even before Japan approved its IR legislation last summer.