Las Vegas Sands goes for Tokyo, MGM for Osaka

Sands and MGM are competing for getting a license in the future legalized Japanese gaming market.

Las Vegas Sands Corp. announced a change of plans, saying it’s no longer interested in Osaka, long seen as the place where the Japan’s first casino resort may open. Now, the company is focused on the Tokyo and Yokohama areas as potential locations to build a casino resort, as Japan moves forward to open facilities that allow gambling.

The U.S. casino operator’s communication came hours after Yokohama, located about 30 minutes south of Tokyo, formally announced it wants to take proposals for an integrated resort to be built on its Yamashita Pier.

Almost at the same time, MGM Resorts International released a statement from Jim Murren, Chairman and CEO: “MGM Resorts remains deeply committed to pursuing an integrated resort in Osaka, Japan. We announced our ‘Osaka First’ strategy and have not wavered from that plan. We have always had confidence in our position, as what we will bring to Osaka is something only MGM Resorts can deliver. We will bring world class entertainment, exciting cultural events, convention expertise, and premium dining and retail experiences that will have broad appeal both nationally and internationally.” Other operators such as Melco Resorts & Entertainment, Wynn Resorts and Galaxy have also expressed interest in building a resort in Osaka.

However, it will be years until the first resorts open in Japan, because the regulation around selection of the sites is still a work in progress. Osaka officials aim to have a casino built on Yumeshima Island in time for a World Expo to be held there in 2025. According to CLSA, an Asian-based brokerage and investment firm, Japan’s gross gaming revenue (GGR) could reach US$20 billion annually.