MGM and Japanese financial services firm ORIX form first Japan integrated resort consortium ahead of casino license bidding process
MGM Resorts International has joined forces with a Japanese financial services group to form a consortium and jointly bid for the right to build an integrated resort in Osaka, multiple local news outlets report.
News about the move arrive shortly after the Las Vegas gaming and hospitality powerhouse’s CEO, Jim Murren, told Bloomberg during his trip to Japan last week that his company would focus all its attention on being selected as the preferred developer of a MICE property in Osaka.
Japanese financial services group ORIX Group announced at a Friday briefing that it would have an equity in a consortium with MGM that would bid for one of three gaming licenses that will be available as part of the first phase of casino gambling liberalization in Japan. The amount of equity both ORIX and MGM would take is still unknown.
While the Las Vegas casino operator has previously indicated that it wanted to be a majority owner in a Japanese integrated resort development, it seemed during its partner’s Friday briefing that they might have agreed to take even stakes in the IR consortium. It also became known that Osaka corporations will too participate in the consortium.
MGM Resorts Japan CEO Ed Bowers confirmed today that his company has been “working with ORIX to create Japan’s first integrated resort in Osaka.”
MOU Signed in Late 2018
ORIX said during its Friday briefing that it forged its partnership with MGM back in December, but it was only late last week that they decided to announce it to the public. Asked to confirm whether a memorandum of understanding was signed late last year, Mr. Bowers told GamblingCompliance that there was indeed a memorandum of understanding.
Osaka will almost certainly be among the hosts of Japan’s first casino resorts. As mentioned above, first wave of casino gambling liberalization will involve the issuance of three gaming licenses. With strong support from local legislators, its winning bid to host World Expo 2025, and an already available site for a future integrated resort, Osaka has been touted as one of the favorites in the race for hosting a MICE property.
Venues for World Expo 2025 will be established on the man-made Yumeshima island just off the Osaka shore. City officials have also pitched the island as the preferred host of an integrated resort, should the Japanese government select Osaka.
MGM’s CEO said last week that they are all focused on winning the bid for the preferred developer of the property, and that they would look to launch it ahead of the global expo. According to Mr. Murren, Osaka city officials are likely to launch the bidding process in the next few months, perhaps after the upcoming mayoral election, and to announce their decision on the preferred candidate about this time next year.
MGM is not the only major gaming and hospitality company to be interested in operating an integrated casino resort in Osaka. Macau’s Melco Resorts & Entertainment and Las Vegas powerhouse Las Vegas Sands have, too, shown appetite to leverage the city’s fertile tourism industry and popularity with international visitors.
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