If you ask the Macau billionaire, he said he prefers to build their very first Japan-based casino in Osaka rather than in Tokyo. The Chairman and CEO for Melco Resorts and Entertainment Limited, Lawrence Ho, wishes to be given permission to construct an integrated casino resort on the man-made Yumeshima Island located in Osaka Bay or in the central district of Umekita in Kansai city.
The Hong Kong-based company, which already runs the City of Dreams Manila and Studio City Macau properties aside from the City of Dreams Macau and Altira Macau venues, is apparently competing against other heavyweights like Crown Resorts Limited, Galaxy Entertainment Group Limited, Las Vegas Sands Corporation and MGM Resorts International for one up to three casino licenses that the Japanese government is expected to authorize by the year 2019. Many other foreign firms are reportedly looking at areas in and around Tokyo in the hopes of cashing in on a viable market that could be worth up to $25 billion annually.
The Kansai region around Osaka is approximately an 8-hour drive from Tokyo and it is already home to various tourist destinations such as Universal Studios Japan as well as many different Buddhist temples of Kyoto. The place is basically a prime shopping area which is extremely popular to Chinese tourists.
On the other hand, Tokyo serves as the nation's financial and political center, and is headquarters to some of the world's biggest firms such as SoftBank Group Corporation, Hitachi Limited and Sony Corporation.
The 40-year-old Lawrence Ho said, "When you go to the Kansai region, it's more fun, really, and we're a company that focuses on fun and entertainment. I'm not so sure Tokyo needs an integrated resort. Tokyo by itself is amazing. It's like when people ask me "do you think New York and London need an integrated resort?" No, they don't."
Most Western-style integrated casino resorts usually include multiple shops, hotels and conference spaces, which means that the fairly cheaper price for land in Osaka could be a driving factor why the Melco CEO prefers the city of just about 2.7 million people over Tokyo with its populace of about 39 million.
According to a report from Carmen Lee and Margaret Huang, Bloomberg Intelligence analysts, it states that, "Tokyo's inflated commercial land prices are higher than the rest of Japan. T hat may dissuade casino operators from developing an integrated resort there, even with the city's population and infrastructure."
The official guidelines that were published earlier this month of May shall mean that municipalities and casino operators are being required to team up so as to be allowed to submit concrete proposals for the right one to be chosen as host of the nation's upcoming integrated casino resorts. This move has created a field full of fierce rivalry as casino companies attempt to woo their host cities.
Lawrence Ho even said, "Right now, there is a lot of speed dating. Sometimes, I go into a Japanese corporate's office and then I walk out and I see our competitors in the lobby."