Japan has officially entered a crucial phase in its venture into commercial gambling with the commencement of construction on the first integrated resort (IR) casino. This milestone comes nearly 2,000 days after Japan legalized commercial gambling in July 2018. The project, led by MGM Resorts International in collaboration with Japanese financial services conglomerate Orix Corporation, officially initiated the formal development of the Osaka IR project on Yumeshima, an artificial island situated in Osaka Bay.
The Osaka IR Corporation, a joint venture equally owned by MGM and Orix (42.5% each), with a 15% stake held by minor investors including Panasonic, Kansai Electric, and West Japan Railway, officially began the construction with site preparation on the 52-acre casino resort, estimated to cost JPY1.27 trillion (US$8.6 billion). Yumeshima, once primarily used as a container port, spans nearly 700 acres. The project involves substantial land solidification to support the ambitious construction, with workers set to reach the bedrock approximately 230 feet below the surface.
The site preparation costs are projected at $173 million, with the Osaka city government committing to reimburse the Osaka IR Corporation upon the completion of the resort. The Osaka IR, backed by MGM's steadfast commitment, is scheduled to open in 2030 and will encompass three hotels representing distinct brands, providing around 2,500 guestrooms. The extensive complex will also feature 730,000 square feet of convention space, with the gaming floor limited to 3% of the total indoor square footage as stipulated by Japan's 2018 gaming legislation.
MGM's perseverance in the Osaka project stands in contrast to several major casino operators withdrawing from Japan, citing delays in the rulemaking process and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Osaka IR development represents a pivotal step for Japan's casino industry, attracting the attention of global gaming giants seeking opportunities in this lucrative market. Japan legalized commercial gambling in July 2018, allowing for the development of up to three integrated resort (IR) casinos. The country garnered significant attention from major casino operators worldwide, including Las Vegas Sands, Caesars Entertainment, Wynn Resorts, Hard Rock International, and Mohegan. However, Japan's lengthy rulemaking process and the COVID-19 pandemic slowed progress, leading some companies to withdraw from consideration.
MGM's Osaka IR will be situated on Yumeshima, an artificial island in Osaka Bay. The project is valued at JPY1.27 trillion (US$8.6 billion) and is expected to open in 2030. The extensive complex will include three hotels with around 2,500 guestrooms, 730,000 square feet of convention space, and a gaming floor limited to 3% of the total indoor square footage. The Osaka IR Corporation, a joint venture between MGM and Orix, officially began construction with site preparation, involving significant land solidification.
The Osaka IR represents a significant step forward for Japan's casino industry, signaling the country's commitment to developing a robust gambling market. The project's initiation highlights MGM's steadfast dedication to the Osaka venture, even as other major casino operators withdrew from the Japanese market due to regulatory delays and the pandemic.
By fLEXI tEAM