Japan’s casino resorts industry is on choppy seas. Many bidders have decided to withdraw from the process altogether, citing geopolitical uncertainty and the COVID-19 pandemic which has bled tourism dry over the past several years. However, for MGM Resorts Japan, quitting the IR race isn’t much of an option – or at least the company doesn’t want it to be.
Not Quitting, But Still Treading Lightly
In fact, company chief executive officer Ed Bowers has reaffirmed MGM’s commitment to an integrated resort in Osaka and will press on. This comes despite the company admitting that Osaka poses some sustainability concerns that would need to be addressed.
Essentially, MGM Resorts Japan isn’t sure if the location is best for attracting the most tourists. Even though the IR project promises to be one of the best investments, choosing a good spot for it could have long-term implications for the industry and how lucrative the project may be.
In fact, MGM Resorts Japan already has an escape clause, which effectively means that should anything go wrong, it can pull out of the race. That creates further doubt for the company winning the bid outright from the central government. That is not all.
MGM Resorts Japan has specifically pointed out that should COVID-19 put too much pressure on tourism, it would consider “escaping” Osaka and walking away from its commitment. Another pressing matter is the soil contamination issue that the Japan Casino Regulatory Commission has not yet addressed.
Soil contamination may put the project’s reputation at stake more so than anything else, fear goes, and MGM Resorts is right to seek a solution in writ before it makes any definitive strides towards the realization of the property. The company will be collaborating with ORIX, a local Japanese company with which it already formed a consortium.
Feasibility to Define Whether the Consortium Commits
Bowers spoke to an Osaka City Council meeting and said that MGM Resorts Japan is firmly committed to the project’s realization. The company has spent years developing the concept and looking for an adequate partner to give it the best chances of succeeding, Inside Asia Gaming reported, citing Bowers’ statement.
However, the selected site of Yumeshima would need to prove a sustainable venue, both economically and environmentally for MGM Resorts and ORIX to make the last step. For now, the companies remain committed, but they might reach a point where their bidding becomes unsustainable.
MGM signed a basic agreement for the project back in February and is committed to its realization. Whether this is feasible will become known very soon.