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Strip of Japan casinos could rival Las Vegas, others

Updated April 14, 2017 - 11:01 pm

A worldwide gaming and hospitality consultant has issued a report that says a strip of full-scale resorts on Osaka’s Yumeshima Island in Japan could generate $10.9 billion a year in gaming revenue and rival Las Vegas, Macau and Singapore as a tourism destination.

Global Market Advisors, which has a Las Vegas office, published the executive summary of a white paper it plans to distribute May 1 that will describe various development options as Japanese government leaders work toward establishing policies for casino gaming expected to be enacted by the end of the year.

Last year, Japan’s National Diet, the nation’s legislature, approved a plan to draft procedures for developing full-scale resorts. Global Market Advisors researchers say the Diet will determine approximate locations for resorts by the third quarter of 2018 with a request-for-proposals process that would pick casino concessionaires by the third quarter of 2019. GMA believes that 2023 would be the first potential year for a resort to open.

Las Vegas’ four largest casino companies — MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment, Las Vegas Sands and Wynn Resorts — have shown interest in entering the Japanese market, estimated at $24.2 billion a year in gaming revenue at buildout.

‘Osaka Strip’

GMA says building the so-called Osaka Strip could appeal to Japanese lawmakers because it has the potential of attracting the most tourists from other countries. The company’s research shows multiple operators in Osaka could draw 47 percent of its visitors from other countries.

Japan traditionally draws tourists from China, South Korea and Taiwan.

Other scenarios studied by GMA have the potential to generate more revenue, but it’s estimated those would draw more domestic customers and fewer international tourists.

The prospect of building on sites in Osaka, Tokyo, Sasebo and Hokkaido would generate an estimated $14.3 billion in gaming revenue a year, but draw only 23 percent of its visitors from other countries. In another scenario, building on sites in Osaka and Yokohama would generate $12.5 billion a year, but attract just 25 percent of its visitors from out of the country.

Steve Gallaway, managing partner of GMA, said one of the goals of Japan’s full-scale resort legislation is to increase tourism so it introduced the “Osaka Strip” concept of multiple operators on Yumeshima Island.

“Developing the Osaka site, with multiple operators on the ‘Osaka Strip,’ would create critical mass and a true tourist destination,” Gallaway said. “This would compete with Las Vegas, Macau and Singapore in generating nearly $11 billion from that district alone.”

Other strips

Several companies operate resorts on or near the Las Vegas Strip. In Macau, Las Vegas Sands has led the development of the Cotai Strip which also has Asian casino operators in addition to Wynn and, later this year, MGM.

In Singapore, there are two casino operators, Las Vegas Sands and Genting, which is gearing to build on the Las Vegas Strip.

GMA said one of the biggest issues under study in the resort development legislation the Diet is considering involves responsible gaming. GMA expects operators submitting proposals will be evaluated on responsible gaming initiatives carried out in other jurisdictions.

Bo Bernhard, executive director of UNLV’s International Gaming Institute, assisted GMA on responsible gaming research.

The Review-Journal is owned by the family of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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