82°F
weather icon Partly Cloudy

MGM Resorts’ plans for Osaka resort delayed by coronavirus pandemic

Updated March 30, 2020 - 3:27 pm

MGM Resorts International’s plans to develop an integrated resort in Osaka, Japan, have been pushed back amid the global coronavirus pandemic.

Osaka officials announced the city had given up on plans to open an integrated resort in time for the 2025 World Expo — which runs from April through October — according to local media reports. This comes as travel is severely restricted with more than 766,000 coronavirus cases confirmed globally, according to Johns Hopkins University.

While the timeline has been altered, experts remain confident that Osaka — and other Japanese regions — will see integrated resorts in the coming years.

“I don’t think (this news) diminished the opportunity to build an integrated resort in Japan,” said Brendan Bussmann, a partner at Global Market Advisors. “I think everyone knows Japan will be a good integrated resort market.”

‘Time on their side’

Ed Bowers, CEO of MGM Resorts Japan LLC, said the schedule shift doesn’t deter MGM’s plans to build in Osaka.

“MGM will continue to proceed with our efforts to create a proposal that will be appreciated by the entire Osaka community, taking into account the schedule announced by the government,” he said.

MGM is the sole casino company left looking to develop a resort in Osaka, but its plans have yet to be approved by Japanese officials.

Japan is set to issue three gaming licenses this year, but the government has not said which cities will get those integrated resorts. Analysts are convinced that Osaka will be the site for one, with Tokyo, Yokohama and Nagasaki vying for another.

MGM is partnering with Japanese financial services company Orix for its bid. Two other Las Vegas-based casino operators — Wynn Resorts Ltd. and Las Vegas Sands Corp. — are also interested in Japan.

Bussmann said Osaka is so far the only region to push back its timeline, and he said its original plans to open the resort in time for the World Expo already were a stretch.

But he has “no doubt” the city will have an integrated resort up by 2026.

“Osaka still has time on their side,” Bussmann said.

Sands, which is looking to develop an integrated resort in Yokohama or Tokyo, “remains interested” in the sites, according to spokesman Ron Reese.

“I think this is specific to Osaka, which we have already said we are were not pursuing,” Reese said.

A spokesman for Wynn did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

UNLV professor and gaming historian David Schwartz said Osaka’s delay is a realistic response to the current crisis, but he doesn’t view the delay as “a positive” for MGM or any other companies looking to build in Japan.

“I don’t think anyone can forecast what the global hospitality landscape will look like on the other side of the pandemic,” he said.

‘A breather’

But SunTrust Robinson Humphrey analyst Barry Jonas said the delay could actually be useful to MGM.

“Any delays will be helpful given the main investor focus right now is liquidity and how many months companies can survive with no, or very limited, revenues,” he said.

A March 27 note from Deutsche Bank Research estimated MGM’s total liquidity was $3.9 billion, meaning it can withstand about 10 months of domestic property closures before it runs out of cash.

Bussmann said the delay could help MGM sort through challenges in other markets — like Las Vegas and Massachusetts — as casinos shut down across the U.S. According to the American Gaming Association, every commercial casino in the U.S. has been temporarily shut down as of Wednesday.

“MGM has a lot of challenges right now on their plate,” Bussmann said. “It’s one of those (situations) where if I could take a breather off one element while I figure out others, I’d gladly take a pause.”

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson. Las Vegas Sands operates six resorts in Macao and one in Singapore.

Contact Bailey Schulz at bschulz@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0233. Follow @bailey_schulz on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Business Videos
Status of renters and homeowners during COVID19 pandemic - Video
Rj reporter Eli Segall discusses how COVID19 is affecting renters and homeowners in Nevada. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Health experts: Smoking in casinos should be banned - Video
Experts say smoking can spread the COVID-19 coronavirus. But not because of airborne particulates. The virus could spread from a smoker’s likely pattern of fingers-to-mouth-to-gaming-device. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Knights’ empathy questioned
A sports talk host called this week a public relations disaster for the Knights and a tourism official said it may shorten the honeymoon period between the team and its devoted fan base.
Chinese visitors in Las Vegas - Video
There were 236,970 visitors from China in Las Vegas in 2018, according to data from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Resorts World Las Vegas lights up - Video
Construction crews tested exterior lights at Resorts World on the Las Vegas Strip, May 19. (David Guzman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Station Casinos releases health and safety plan for reopening - Video
Station Casinos rolled out new health and safety protocols Monday morning, May 18, including the use of thermal scanners, testing all employees for COVID-19 and “enhanced cleaning technologies.” (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Maverick Helicopters offers 250 free tours for two - VIDEO
Maverick Helicopters will restart its flights on Friday, according to a news release. To celebrate, Maverick will give away 250 flights for two with its “Our Vegas” promotion. (James Schaffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts to bring back free parking on Las Vegas Strip - VIDEO
MGM Resorts on Monday announced free parking for all guests at its Strip resorts for the foreseeable future. New York-New York and Bellagio are the first announced hotels to reopen for casino business and return to the golden days of no-cost parking.
Laughlin’s iconic Colorado Belle to stay closed indefinitely - VIDEO
The Colorado Belle, an iconic hotel-casino on the Colorado River in Laughlin, will stay closed for the foreseeable future and lay off its 400 workers. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Laughlin’s iconic Colorado Belle to stay closed indefinitely; 400 to lose jobs - VIDEO
The Colorado Belle, an iconic hotel-casino on the Colorado River in Laughlin, will stay closed for the foreseeable future and lay off its 400 workers.
MSG Sphere construction site remains dormant - Video
The MSG Sphere at The Venetian construction site remains sidelined and representatives of MSG Entertainment offered no updates on when workers might return. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada Gaming Control Board keeping reopening plans confidential
The state Gaming Control Board requires every licensee, from the megaresorts to the corner gas station convenience store slot machine operators, to submit reopening plans, but they intend to keep them confidential.
Natural turf added to Allegiant Stadium field tray
The massive field tray, which will roll in and out of the stadium, has a fresh layer of natural grass turf for Raiders home games.
Players show up at Gila River Casino in Arizona - Video
Gila River Casino at Wild Horse Pass in Chandler, Arizona, is packed with players on the casino’s reopening day, Friday, May 15, 2020. (Elizabeth BrumleyLas Vegas Review-Journal)
Casinos reopening in Phoenix area - Video
Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino reopened in Maricopa, Arizona, on Friday, May 15, 2020. It was closed during the government shutdown for coronavirus. (Elizabeth Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caesars Entertainment to phase In reopenings - Video
Caesars Entertainment, the operator of Caesars Palace and eight other Las Vegas resorts, on Monday announced it would phase in reopenings with a comprehensive safety and health plan with employees wearing masks across its network of properties. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada Gaming Commission meeting
Full meeting of the Nevada Gaming Commission on Thursday, May 7, 2020.
Sisolak says businesses will begin reopening under phase 1 - VIDEO
The first phase of reopening Nevada’s businesses will begin Saturday, May 9, Gov. Steve Sisolak said Thursday. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Henderson winery reacts to Sisolak's economic plan - VIDEO
Governor Sisolak's reopening plan is easier said than done for the only winery in Clark County. Grape Expectations is trying to figure out how to open up shop when they are three businesses in one. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Southwest requiring face coverings
In an effort to increase safety for passengers and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, Southwest Airlines is updating protocols that include requiring passengers to wear face coverings beginning May 11.
Locals rush to reopened tennis courts
Daniel Nunez and Sarah Germain made immediate plans to go to their local tennis court, Darling Tennis Center, when they received an email that the facility would open on May 1.
Businesses in Henderson begin reopening - VIDEO
In downtown Henderson and at The District at Green Valley Ranch, small shops are opening their doors for business. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM CEO: Bellagio, New York-New York to reopen first after shutdown - VIDEO
The head of MGM Resorts International isn’t sure when he’ll be able to open properties in Las Vegas, but said Thursday that New York-New York and Bellagio will likely be the first to open their doors. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New visitation report shows plunging numbers for March
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority reported Thursday that convention attendance fell 54.8 percent to 249,800. March normally is one of the city’s strongest months for conventions and trade shows.
US jobless claims climb to 30 million in 6 weeks - VIDEO
The Labor Department released the tally of the most recent jobless claims on Thursday. First-time claims for the week ending on April 25 increased by more than 3.84 million. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Venetian to have EMTs, thermal cameras upon reopening - VIDEO
The hotel-casino operator, Las Vegas Sands Corp., announced updated protocols on April 28 for when its Las Vegas properties reopen, sometime after May 31. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Unions contracts expiring - VIDEO
RJ investigations reporter Arthur Kane and Renee Summerour discuss the uncertainty of union contracts expiring in June, and how the extent of the financial damage from the crisis will make it difficult for unions and governments to negotiate collective bargaining agreements, possibly sending many to arbitration. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Strip hoteliers outline cleaning plans upon reopening - VIDEO
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak has yet to confirm when casinos will be able to reopen, but operators are already preparing for the day they’ll have to reassure guests their properties are clean and safe amid the virus outbreak. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Treasure Island plans to reopen May 15 - VIDEO
Treasure Island is planning to open its doors to guests May 15, despite Gov. Steve Sisolak saying Wednesday that gaming shutdowns, currently set to end April 30, will probably be extended an undetermined amount of time. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders logo goes up on Henderson headquarters - VIDEO
The iconic Raiders emblem gets installed on the team's headquarters and practice facility in Henderson on April 22, 2020. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST
Will Las Vegas casinos’ safety plans help lure back visitors?

Experts say the transparency is just another way companies can reassure guests and employees that their facilities are safe enough to return to. But, ultimately, only the number of people who end up inside the reopened resorts will show whether that reassurance is enough.

Casino suppliers feel the sting of COVID-19, too

Supply companies — those who work behind the scenes making sure Las Vegas resort-casinos are stocked up on food, clothes, fresh laundry and more — have also been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.