MGM Resorts Consortium Submits Proposal for $9bn Casino in Osaka, Japan

  • MGM and its consortium partner Orix have submitted a plan for the ¥1tn ($9.08bn) casino resort
  • Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura expects the casino to open in the latter half of the decade
  • Details of the plan are sparse, but officials have offered the island of Yumeshima as a location
  • Nagasaki, Wakayama, and Yokohama are in different stages of selection as they vie for permits
Map of Osaka with red pin
MGM Resorts International has now put forward its plans for a casino resort project in the Japanese prefecture of Osaka which will involve an investment of more than $9bn. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Osaka makes progress

A consortium led by MGM Resorts International is the only contender to develop and operate a casino in Osaka, Japan. Now, it has finally revealed what it has in mind for the project.

Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura confirmed on Wednesday that MGM and its partner Orix Corporation have submitted their proposal. The local government has not yet officially approved the plans, but if it goes ahead it will see the MGM-led consortium spend ¥1tn ($9.08bn) to build the new integrated resort.

forecasted to open in the latter half of the decade

Before Osaka can go ahead with the development on its Yumeshima island, the prefecture must still apply to the national government by April 2022. Japan officials will then select one of three locations across the country to host casinos. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, Yoshimura expects the development to begin in 2023, with the casino forecasted to open in the latter half of the decade.

Speaking on Wednesday, Yoshimura made clear his expectations for the new facility. “I would like to invite the world’s best integrated resort to Yumeshima where many people in Japan and abroad can come and enjoy Osaka after the pandemic is over,” he told the WSJ.

What do we know so far?

As of yet, MGM has not made its plans for the $9bn resort public. The Osaka government has nonetheless offered the man-made island of Yumeshima, otherwise known as “dream island”, as the casino’s location. The governor also expects local businesses to have a role in the development.

COVID-19 has had a detrimental impact on the prefecture of Osaka, which is usually a top tourist destination for Asian travelers. However, Yoshimura has asserted that the region will rebound quickly once the effects of the pandemic subside. The governor said MGM and Orix’s plans to invest show that they also have confidence in the prefecture’s recovery.

Other details on the project are sparse, but MGM CEO Bill Hornbuckle has revealed that the company agreed with Osaka officials to scale back some aspects of the resort earlier this year. Speaking during a Bernstein’s investors conference in June, he said the new plans would cut down on meeting and convention space. The executive claimed this would allow the company to focus on its “core business of gaming.”

In regards to MGM’s agreement with Orix, the Japanese financial services company has confirmed that both parties have an equal share in the consortium. However, Orix has not revealed what that share might be.

The competition heats up

Japan legalized gambling in 2018, but a number of obstacles have slowed down the process of rolling out the three available casino licenses. Currently, Osaka, Nagasaki, Wakayama, and Yokohama are all competing for the integrated resort permits.

MGM first announced its interest in gaining an Osaka casino resort license in May 2019. Since then, a number of operators have withdrawn from the race. Galaxy Entertainment, Genting Singapore, Wynn Resorts, Melco Resorts, and Las Vegas Sands all expressed an interest in the project at some point. In April this year, Osaka named the MGM consortium as the only viable bidder.

Only Genting and Melco remain as contenders in Yokohama

The race for casino licenses in each of the other possible locations has also gained momentum. Only Genting and Melco remain as contenders in Yokohama. Meanwhile, Nagasaki officials confirmed in February that five companies are competing for its own resort. They have all since made it to the next selection stage. Wakayama’s government is further ahead in the process, having backed plans for a $4.3bn casino from Canadian private equity management firm Clairvest Group.