MGM Consortium Remains Only Osaka Casino Bidder After RFP Extension

  • Osaka received no applications for its IR license during an additional window for proposals
  • Various operators have withdrawn from the Osaka race since 2019, including Wynn and Melco
  • Osaka is aiming to earn one of three IR permits, with proposals accepted starting in October
  • Nagasaki and Yokohama are also contending for casinos, with various operators vying for permits
Osaka Castle at sunrise
MGM-ORIX is still the only bidder for Osaka’s casino resort license, despite prefecture officials extending the request for proposals window. [Image:]

No further bids

Local government officials in Osaka, Japan have confirmed that a consortium led by MGM Resorts International is the only contender for its casino resort license.

MGM and its partner ORIX were the only companies to register in the original operator recruitment process in February 2020. Officials still decided to launch an additional request for proposals (RFP), though, because of a recent revision made to Osaka’s Integrated Resort (IR) Implementation Policy.

the new deadline passed at midday on Tuesday without any submissions

The prefecture opened up applications again from March 19 to April 6 for any other private sector entities. The Osaka government confirmed that the new deadline passed at midday on Tuesday without any submissions, leaving MGM-ORIX as the sole bidder.

MGM’s Osaka journey

MGM first announced its interest in gaining an Osaka casino resort license in May 2019. During the prefecture’s request-for-concept application process, MGM seemed to face some tough competition. Galaxy Entertainment, Genting Singapore, Wynn Resorts, Melco Resorts, and Las Vegas Sands all expressed interest at some point.

The majority of operators withdrew from the race before 2020, leaving just Galaxy, Genting, and MGM. In February of last year, Osaka officials named MGM-ORIX as the only viable contender for the project. MGM’s two remaining competitors subsequently shifted their focus to Yokohama.

Although MGM-ORIX may have secured Osaka’s casino spot, the prefecture is not guaranteed to host an integrated resort (IR). Osaka must provide the federal government with its casino proposal starting on October 1. Japan’s government then plans to grant three IR permits in 2022.

Government officials in Osaka have chosen a site on the man-made Yumeshima Island as the location for the prefecture’s casino resort. According to the current plans, the property will be more than 60 hectares (148 acres) in size and will cost around $8.5bn to develop.

Japan’s potential IR locations

Japan legalized casino resorts toward the end of the 2018 legislative session. Government officials agreed to offer only three IR licenses to cities and regions across the country. Osaka, Nagasaki, and Yokohama are the main contenders for these three permits.

all five Nagasaki applicants progressed to the next selection stage

In Nagasaki, officials have confirmed that five companies are currently vying for the prefecture’s casino license. Among them are a consortium involving Current Corp and Get Nice Holdings, and Casinos Austria. Last month, all five Nagasaki applicants progressed to the next stage in the region’s RFP process.

Meanwhile, Yokohama is accepting applicants for its own IR license until May 17. Seven gambling companies have expressed interest in bidding for the resort, including Genting Singapore, Galaxy Entertainment, and Sega Sammy Holdings. The prefecture will announce the successful bidder in the summer of 2021.

Although Japan’s capital city of Tokyo has not yet formally announced its candidacy for an IR project, the city is a preferred destination among many casino operators thanks to its population of over 8.6 million. In December last year, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike told GGRAsia that the city will “keep considering whether to apply.”

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