Japan has given the green light to an astounding $8.1 billion (1.08 trillion yen) deal for the construction of a resort in Osaka, marking the country’s first-ever casino. This follows the passage of a law in 2018 to legalize gambling in Japan.
The project has garnered support from various backers. U.S. casino operator MGM Resorts and Japanese-based ORIX Group each hold a 40% stake, with an additional 20% share divided among 20 other companies. The Osaka IR Project, as it is known, will mainly be managed by MGM and ORIX. MUFG Bank and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp are also set to provide significant funds for the development, as confirmed by the local government.
Plans for the resort were submitted in Osaka last April and have been approved in an effort to boost tourism in the country, especially following a decline in visitors due to the Covid outbreak. The large-scale casino resort, slated to open in the western city of Osaka, is expected to be unveiled in 2029.
The resort aims to attract both domestic and international visitors, with a projected annual revenue of roughly 500 billion yen. It is envisioned to draw over 20 million annual guests, tapping into an untapped casino market in Japan. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has expressed hope that the resort will showcase Japan’s beauty and allure.
History of Gambling in Japan
Before 2018, both public and private casinos were illegal in Japan, with only games such as lotteries, pachinko, and race betting available to the public. However, a resort law passed in 2018 allowed for certain table games to be available at establishments aimed at attracting tourists. The new law imposes a 6,000 yen entry fee and attendance limitations for Japanese residents, while international attendees are exempt, signaling a push to boost tourist spending and stimulate the economy.
This has led to some opposition from locals in Osaka due to concerns about gambling addiction and crime. However, a residential vote favored the proposal, allowing the project to move forward. MGM has allocated $10.5 million (1.4 billion yen) to be spent on gambling addiction resources.
Upcoming Resort Features
The casino resort is set to open in 2029, encompassing a hotel, theater, art museum, shopping mall, and conference center. It will also be located near other tourist attractions in Osaka, including Universal Studios Japan. The complex will include a helicopter pad for affluent clientele and a ferry terminal for visitors arriving by water.
The success of the Osaka project has paved the way for a similar resort in Nagasaki to seek approval. The future looks promising for a burgeoning industry in Japan. Only time will tell!