By Todd Shriber
The already teeming field of Japanese prefectures angling for a gaming license could get a little more crowded with the possible arrivals of Aichi and Tokyo to the fray, according to a research firm.
Tokyo, the Japanese capital and the country’s largest city, has long been rumored to be part of the integrated resort competition. That’s simply because of the operators’ desire to establish gaming venues in a big metropolitan area. However, the city hasn’t officially declared its participation in the race.
The recent reelection of Governor Yuriko Koike in Tokyo could be a boon for that city’s designs on an integrated resort. But Bay City Ventures managing director Joji Kokuryo says there are multiple considerations in Koike’s view of entering the casino race.
The Olympics and the national timeline for the IR will be two of the main variables in her decision,” said Kokuryo in a recent note.
Tokyo was slated to host the Summer Olympics this year. But the coronavirus pandemic threw a wrench in those plans. In March, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said the games will be held in the city starting July 23, 2021, running through August 8, 2021.
While cities such as Yokohama and Osaka have long been part of the Japan casino fray, that’s not the case with the capital city. But there have frequently been rumors to that effect.
Earlier this year, it was reported that Tokyo would eventually declare its candidacy, with analysts speculating that the city could procure one of the first three Japanese gaming permits because its greater metropolitan area is home to 38 million citizens and it’s the richest urban business center in the world, driving $2 trillion in economic output.
Bay City Ventures’ Kokuryo noted earlier this week that Las Vegas Sands (LVS) could reenter the Japan competition after bailing in May. However, he didn’t specifically say LVS would target Tokyo. The operator previously expressed a preference for Yokohama. But the capital city is more attractive to operators, and Sands is one of a small number with the resources to execute what would almost certainly be the most expensive integrated resort project on record.
Melco Resorts & Entertainment and Wynn Resorts are among the gaming firms focusing on Yokohama, while MGM Resorts International is the lone contender left in Osaka.
Aichi, a prefecture in central Honshu Island, has a population of 7.55 million. Famed for the miso seasoning used to make the Japanese soup of the same name, Aichi is located about 160 miles from Tokyo. National policy could determine Aichi’s entry into the casino race.
“The prefecture completed what they considered as their RFC period at the end of May to very little fanfare,” said Bay City Ventures’ Kokuryo. “Governor Omura is expected to make a decision soon on whether or not the prefecture will go forward with their Airport Island IR development plan. But a decision is highly unlikely without clarity on the national IR Basic Policy.”
Because of the prefecture’s potentially late arrival to the fray, it’s not immediately clear what operators will be interested in the region or what construction costs will be.