Asian casino operator Melco Crown Entertainment Limited has officially joined the race for one of the integrated casino resort licenses set to be put up for grabs in Japan next year after unveiling two potential plans for a development in the city of Osaka.
The Nasdaq-listed firm already operates the Studio City Macau and City Of Dreams Manila properties and it is now hoping to build a multi-billion-dollar gambling-focused venue in either the central Umekita district of the city or on the man-made Yumeshima Island in Osaka Bay.
“Melco Crown Entertainment Limited has always had a keen interest in Japan,” read a statement from Lawrence Ho Yau Lung, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for Melco Crown Entertainment Limited. “Indeed, I personally, together with my executive management team, have been closely looking at this market for over a decade. We are thrilled by the active approach of the Japanese government on the recently-passed integrated resort legislation.”
The revelation from Melco Crown Entertainment Limited came only a day after the firm disclosed to the Reuters news service that it was willing to outspend its rivals in order to win the right to operate one of up to three integrated casino resorts Japanese legislators are expected to authorize in 2018. October saw Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International disclose that it was prepared to invest a minimum of $10 billion for just such a venue while Las Vegas Sands Corporation echoed this sentiment earlier this week during an investor conference in Tokyo.
“We’ll absolutely spend whatever we need to win,” Ho told the news service.
Melco Crown Entertainment Limited, in which Ho’s own Melco International Development Limited enterprise holds a majority stake of 51.3%, additionally runs the City Of Dreams Macau and Altira Macau properties and declared that its “unique and exciting world-class” designs for the planned Osaka venue would “celebrate the best of Japan and its culture”.
“Melco Crown Entertainment Limited’s integrated resort properties and facilities have always been the pride of the cities where we operate,” read the statement from Ho, who was recently named as the 42nd richest person in Hong Kong with a personal portfolio of around $1.43 billion. “We are never content to replicate past successes but focus on developing world-class integrated resorts that celebrate the culture and uniqueness of our partner cities. Our innovation and five-star-plus service culture have garnered many international and Asian awards and recognition as validated by the fact that we have the most Michelin-starred restaurants and the most Forbes five-star hotel facilities in Macau.”
Reuters earlier reported that specific criteria on where the new integrated casino resorts are to be located is expected by December while the news service moreover explained that the likeliest option will see local authorities team up with operators in order to bid for one of the three expected licenses.
“The operation of integrated resorts is a highly regulated industry,” read the statement from Ho. “With integrated resorts in multiple jurisdictions, Melco Crown Entertainment Limited has consistently demonstrated its industry leadership in respect of social safeguards and has upheld the highest standards of corporate governance and social responsibility. The company has widely-recognized responsible gaming programs that proactively educate the public and its employees, protect against problem gambling and guard communities against criminal elements.”
Japan has a wealthy and well educated population along with a strong tourist appeal and numerous industry experts have predicted that just two integrated casino resorts could bring in annual revenues of up to $10 billion while this may rise to as high as $40 billion if more gambling venues are subsequently approved.
“Our commitment in Japan is for the long term,” read the statement from Ho. “Melco Crown Entertainment Limited is excited and honored to have the opportunity to take part in this transformational moment for Japan. We are determined to work with the Japanese government and local partners and communities to create the city’s first integrated resort [and deliver] long-lasting benefits to Japan. As I have said, there currently is no predetermined cap on our intended investment in Japan [as] our focus is on uniqueness, great design and world-class entertainment offerings. I prefer not to constrain our dreams, ambitions, passion and commitment in Japan with price tags, particularly at this early stage. With our unsurpassed track record of developing and operating highly sophisticated and truly unique integrated resorts around the world, I am confident that Melco Crown Entertainment Limited’s ultimate vision will support the government’s aspirations for an integrated resort that is unique to Japan and delights its people as well as drawing tourists from around the world.”