Osaka Signs MGM Deal to Launch Japan’s First Casino Resort by Fall 2030

  • MGM can pull out of the deal if investment tops ¥1.27 trillion ($8,5bn)
  • The OPG also agreed on a fixed-term leasehold contract with Osaka IR
  • The consortium will submit a license request to the central government
Osaka map with pin
The city of Osaka has inked two deals designed to launch Japan’s first casino by fall 2030. [Image:]

Action, finally

For MGM Resorts International and the Orix Corporation, there may finally be some action after endless delays, rises in construction costs, and red tape runarounds in the consortium’s bid to bring an integrated resort (IR) to Japan for the first time.

On Thursday, the Japan Times reported that the Osaka Prefectural Government (OPG) inked a sweetened deal with the consortium. It would see the MGM group, called Osaka IR, open the doors of its Japan casino by fall 2030.

Osaka IR has the right to pull out of the project by the end of September 2026

Should certain conditions, such as the amount of initial investment exceeding ¥1.27 trillion ($8.5bn), enter play, Osaka IR has the right to pull out of the project by the end of September 2026.

Boxes ticked

The MGM group also got the OPG’s signature on a fixed-term leasehold contract for the planned IR’s construction site on Yumeshima, an artificial island in Osaka Bay.

According to the JT, government officials envisage the Osaka resort boosting the regional economy in the wake of the 2025 World Expo scheduled to be held in the prefecture.

Casinos only became legal in Japan in 2018 when the Japanese government unveiled plans for three IRs. Only Nagasaki and Osaka officially applied for a license in April 2022, but delays including COVID-19 screening in December 2022, led to the Osaka IR’s seeming stagnation.

Taking a big hit

While the OPG had originally scheduled the Osaka IR to open around fall or winter 2029, it had to announce a delay earlier this month because of soaring material costs.

MGM has agreed to take the hit and pony up $8.5bn

To get the IR project moving again, MGM has agreed to take the hit and pony up $8.5bn. At $1.3bn more than the previous estimated cost of ¥1.08 trillion ($7,2bn), it’s a significant hike.

Now all that remains is for Osaka IR to apply for a license from Japan’s central government. Get that done and CEO Bill Hornbuckle and his firm’s Japanese partners will be well on the way to opening the first IR in the country.

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