When Japan legalized land based casino gambling in 2018, there was a lot of excitement amongst global casino operators as market analysts predicted that the Japanese gambling market would be one of the biggest gambling markets in Asia and could even rival Macau – which is the biggest gambling hub in the world.
Japan was expected to issue only three integrated resort (IR) casino licenses at the initial stage for three IR to be built in three cities.
The top cities that showed an interesting in developing a multi-billion dollar IR included Tokyo, Osaka, Yokohama and Wakayama.
Yokohama put out a request-for-proposal (RFP) to see which casino operators were interested in developing an IR in the city. Genting Singapore Ltd which runs Resorts World Sentosa in Singapore and Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd which has a strong presence in Macau and the Philippines were the frontrunners to get selected to developer an IR in Yokohama.
Yokohama was pushing for an IR because the ruling government was in favour of developing a casino resort. However the ruling government was ousted over the weekend as voters decided to bring in Takeharu Yamanaka and his government.
Casino analysts from Maybank Investment Bank Bhd say that the new government is not in favour of integrated resorts and will definitely not push for Yokohama to host an IR. An official statement from Yamanaka and his team is expected this week to clarify that they will no longer bid for an IR license. The RFP IR process is expected to be scrapped by the end of the month.
The news will come as a disappointment for both Genting Singapore Ltd and Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd. Unconfirmed reports suggest that Genting Singapore Ltd was going to partner with local operator Sega Sammy Holdings Inc. and was a frontrunner to win the Yokohama proposal. The company was expected to invest $1.09 billion to develop an IR.
Sega Sammy Holdings said that they will continue to remain positive and look for other opportunities to develop an IR in another city in Japan.
Japan Casino Market Not As Attractive As Before
The casino market in Japan no longer looks as attractive as before as political tensions, a lack of transparency and the extended delays in moving forward with the licensing process has caused multiple operators such as Las Vegas Sands Corp. and Wynn Resorts to lose interest.