Caesars drops out of Japanese IR race

Caesars drops out of Japanese IR race

Caesars drops out of Japanese IR raceCaesars Entertainment’s once grand dreams of a Japanese integrated resort (IR) appear to have come to an end. As first reported by Bloomberg, the casino operator will no longer pursue an IR license, instead preferring to focus on its merger with Eldorado Resorts.

The decision to back out of an IR license push was motivated by a sensitivity to their Japanese business partners, and government authorities, CEO Tony Rodio said. It’s probably a reasonable assumption that Caesars didn’t want to string them along with an underwhelming bid if they hoped to eventually return much stronger in the future.

That theory is well supported by Chairman Jim Hunt’s comments to Bloomberg, which has the operator leaving Japan very humbly:

“As Caesars has pursued a license to operate in Japan over many years, we have been treated with respect and goodwill by Japanese government, business and community leaders, and with kindness by all the Japanese people we have encountered during this journey.”

So this marks the end of at least this version of Caesars Japanese IR dream. And what a dream it was!

They’ve been bargaining for a Japanese presence for years. In 2014, well before the current IR craze started, they promised a $5 billion resort if they would ever get the chance to build in Japan. They then announced their “100 Year Partnership for Japan” campaign in September, 2018, a push to provide Japan a taste of what a Caesars presence could look like.

The operator had been working on plans for several potential destinations for a resort, including Hokkaido, Yokohama, Tomakomai, Osaka and Tokyo. The last we heard from them, they were sponsoring esports events, and teasing that it could be just the start of a beautiful IR future.

That’s clearly not happening now, or at least not yet. With one big operator out of the picture, the IR license competition is still fairly crowded and it’s still unclear when things will be firmed up.