Increasing Delays and Pessimism Surround Integrated Resort in Japan, Possibly Not Until 2030

mounting concern emerges at MGM Resorts over possible pre-2030 arrival of Japanese IRs due to the central government's delay of the procedure

Jun 10, 2024
2 min read
The Osaka, Japan skyline, seen at twilight, above. MGM Resorts is preparing for the possibility...
The Osaka, Japan skyline, seen at twilight, above. MGM Resorts is preparing for the possibility that an IR in Osaka may not happen until after 2030.


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Increasing Delays and Pessimism Surround Integrated Resort in Japan, Possibly Not Until 2030

The quiet from Japan's central government on the possible establishment of integrated resorts (IR) is making casino operators anxious. MGM Resorts International, vying for a casino in Osaka, now believes an IR in this decade might be a pipe dream.

The Japanese government has yet to decide on approving IR plans for Osaka and Nagasaki. A verdict was expected at the end of last year, but that deadline came and went with no updates.

With each postponement, the potential launch date of any resort gets pushed back. While MGM's president and CEO, Bill Hornbuckle, still feels positive about the project's success, he's less certain about the timeline.

Hornbuckle voiced his impatience during the company's annual financial results presentation this week.

He hopes for some positive news soon. If not, the target of a 2029 launch won't be met. Previously, there were hopes that the first IR would launch by 2025, but that optimistic timeline was never very feasible.

Osaka and Nagasaki, who selected Casinos Austria as their partner, submitted their proposals a year ago, but it's been mostly quiet since then.

Questions, Questions, and More Questions

Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (MLITT), a key figure in the approval process, appears to be dragging out the project's delay.

The MLITT is still scrutinizing the proposals and is eager for more details on the projects and the processes. It has reportedly reached out to MGM and Osaka multiple times to clear up various points about the $8.25 billion endeavor.

If Osaka's IR proposal manages to get the green light in its current state, there will be three hotels with about 2,500 rooms. It will also feature a MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, Events) center encompassing around 68,000 square meters (731,945 square feet) of space.

There will also be a sizable theater and a variety of local cultural experiences and retail stores. Projections by Osaka and MGM predict the IR could generate up to 15,000 jobs.

Building the Next Generation of Casino Executives

MGM is wrapping up a training program in Japan today aimed at cultivating future casino leaders. The Next-Generation Leaders Training Program started on Wednesday, with several area universities taking part. Kyoto Foreign Language University, Kyoto University, Ritsumeikan University Business School, and others chose students to attend.

The goal of the program is to give participants valuable insights into how resorts are run and operated. The course is in English to hone their skills in international business.

MGM has offered this course before, with it being a regular occurrence. The program was held online last year.

In the course, industry experts led lectures on accommodations, casinos, food and beverage operations, and more. The aim is to give students an international perspective that will enable them to work for a global company and gain insight into the latest trends in tourism and international business.

They also learn about sustainable business practices and responsible gambling.

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