Casino mogul says Osaka best placed for first Japan casino as it is ‘more fun’ than Tokyo

  • Melco owner wants Osaka to win casino license
  • Cites room for growth, cheaper cost and market potential

After Japan’s vote to legalize casinos late last year, talk has now turned to where these resorts will be built and what casino companies will be involved.

Lawrence Ho eyes Osaka as the best Japanese casino location - not the capital Tokyo
Lawrence Ho eyes Osaka as the best Japanese casino location – not the capital Tokyo.

The National Diet, the seat of the Japanese government, is expected to issue two casino licenses by the end of the year.

Casino mogul Lawrence Ho, owner of Melco Resorts & Entertainment, has said in an interview with Bloomberg that he thinks one of those licenses should go to Osaka and not Tokyo, the nation’s capital. He is such a major player in the Asian casino industry, that when he talks, people listen.

It’s currently rumored that both cities could be chosen as sites for future integrated casino resorts, even though when the legislation to legalize gambling was passed, it was said that its aim was to improve rural economies.

Osaka over Tokyo

Ho doesn’t think that Tokyo needs an integrated casino resort, as the city is prosperous enough as it is.

There’s also the matter of space: Tokyo is the world’s largest city by far and finding space for such a resort would be challenging. Cost would also be a pressing issue: constructing and maintaining a resort would be quite expensive indeed.

Ho favors Osaka because it’s much less costly, there’s a lot more room in the city for expansion and he thinks the country should focus on developing existing cities and growing new ones.

Market potential

Ho also explained in the interview how Osaka has much more overall potential, especially since it’s already quite popular with Chinese tourists. He thinks of the Kansai region, where Osaka is located, as ‘more fun’ than Tokyo and thinks it’s an ideal fit for an integrated resort since his company ‘focuses on fun and entertainment’. CLSA, an investment banking firm, has predicted that the two new resorts could collectively generate as much as $25 billion.

Ongoing talks

Most of the world’s top casino companies have shown interest in establishing partnerships with Japanese firms. As well as Melco Resorts & Entertainment, MGM and Las Vegas Sands are apparently keen to acquire casino licenses and take their slice of what could be a very lucrative new market indeed.

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