Melco launches $250m non-gaming project fund for Japan

Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd is launching a JPY27 billion ($250 million) fund to invest in non-gaming resort projects in Japan. These include a hot spring resort in Hakone and a ski resort in Nagano.

The resorts will be the first two projects in the ‘Melco Creative Exchange’ hospitality investment fund, which will develop and operate leisure and entertainment facilities.

According to inside asian gaming, the Hakone resort will be designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban. It will be a four-storey resort covering 6,500 square metres.

Existing facilities will be redesigned for both resorts.

‘Melco Creative Exchange’ hospitality investment fund

The casino operator and developer is also competing for one of Japan’s integrated resort (IR) licenses. Leading candidates for the licenses are Osaka, Yokohama and Tomakomai.

In July 2018, Japan legalised gambling resorts. The new casino law will allow IRs, offering casinos with hotels, conference facilities and other entertainment.

According to GGRAsia, Melco said it would adopt a ‘Yokohama First’ policy. It also previously ended its interest in the Osaka IR.

Melco Resorts’ chairman and chief executive, Lawrence Ho Yau Lung, said: “We have declared ‘Yokohama First’ for IR construction, but for tourism we think ‘Japan First’.”

Melco is focusing on IR in Yokohama

“The benefit of Yokohama is its proximity to Tokyo, but it’s very much a day-trip market,” he added.

“We are looking to build the world’s biggest integrated resort to make Yokohama a primary city for people to go and stay for two or three days.”

As for Osaka, Genting Singapore has been shortlisted as one of the three bidders to develop a theme park and integrated resort.

MGM Resorts International and Galaxy Entertainment are the other competitors remaining in the Osaka race.

The planned IR site is 49 hectares on the northwestern section of the artificial island of Yumeshima, which is also where the 2025 Osaka-Kansai World Expo will take place.

Image: Melco Resorts