Japan’s first IR Expo opens in Osaka as candidates try to win casino licenses

The first Japan IR Expo has opened in Osaka, as candidates increase efforts to win legalised integrated casino resorts.

The two-day event started yesterday (May 15) and was attended by six international casino operators, including MGM Resorts Japan, Melco Resorts & Entertainment, Caesars Entertainment Japan, Las Vegas Sands, and Wynn Resorts.

Various suppliers and operators from Japan and abroad seeking opportunities to enter the integrated resort (IR) market were also present, introducing their products and services.

In July 2018, Japan legalised gambling resorts after nearly 20 years of debate. The new casino law will allow integrated resorts, offering casinos alongside hotels, conference facilities and other forms of entertainment.

Integrated resorts in Osaka, Yokohama and Tomakomai?

Osaka is a leading candidate for one of the three IR licenses available in the first phase, alongside Yokohama and Tomakomai.

The Kansai Economic Federation previously announced plans for the urban development of Yumeshima, which is also where the 2025 Osaka-Kansai World Expo will take place.

As well as considering integrated resort facilities, the group hopes to build a new theme park, with the goal of attracting 30 million visitors to the destination after Expo has finished.

Plans for casino resort at Huis Ten Bosch

Huis Ten Bosch theme park in Sasebo City recently confirmed that it had entered into an agreement to sell part of its land as a candidate site for a casino resort.

President of Huis Ten Bosch, Hideo Sawada, said that the park “will not be participating as an operator, but if there is a request we may be involved in part of the facility’s operations”.

He added that the company would expect an IR “to be able to attract between one and two million visitors annually”.

Image: Japan IR Expo