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Building agreements, biding time

Exposing their Japanese cards, casino companies in Tokyo told Business Daily yesterday that they are already committing to local partners

Galaxy Entertainment Group (GEG) inked an agreement with Tange Associates, a Japanese architectural firm on May 9, on the eve of the Japan Gaming Congress (JgC). The information was provided to Business Daily by GEG Vice President Jeremy Walker and posted yesterday on our social media platforms Facebook and Twitter.
“Tange is probably the leading architectural firm in Japan and have designed and built many of Japan’s most iconic buildings. Tange [Associates] are assisting us in a design and architectural consulting capacity. We will be working with [them] to ensure the IR is designed sensitively and sustainably … to attract global visitors [and] to carefully integrate with local attractions and the community in mind,” Walker commented.
According to the GEG VP, the agreement is a way of showing the company’s commitment to engaging with local business and ways in its bid for a project in Japan.
“Having well respected local designers such as Tange on our team will enable us to carefully blend the amenities of the IR with the attractions of the local city,” he added. 
In what regards other relations with Japanese investors and partners, Walker highlighted Galaxy’s long relationship with Okura Hotel and resorts – “for over ten years” – claiming they are “the only IR operator with a local hotel partner such as this.” 
Also in a follow-up from our additional enquiries, Alan M. Feldman, Executive Vice President of Global Industry Affairs of MGM Resorts International, said that although MGM’s delegation has met with several potential suppliers based in Japan, they “are not meeting with potential Japanese gaming companies as equity partners at this time.”
As for potential non-gaming partners, Feldman explained that 90 per cent of their list is Japanese-based, “but also includes global hospitality and entertainment companies that might join [them] in a significant investment in Japan.”

Too early to pin down
IR on map
Toru Mihara, who is advising the Japan Government on the Integrated Resort Promotion Bill, and who has been in communication with us since Wednesday, said it is too early to comment upon which local governments would be selected.
“The law defines procedures – that is, criteria to select – but the selection process starts only after the implementation law [materialises]. So it is still far away,” he explained.
Comments from Jeremy Walker of GEG fell concurred.
“Legislation in Japan is not yet finalised or approved. The IR licensing timeline from government is not yet confirmed. Bidding is not expected until 2018 and construction not likely until 2020,” he said.
According to Chris Weiners, Managing Partner of marketing firm Hogo Digital, who was in touch with us from the site of the Congress, said Osaka “looks solid,” while Tokyo and Yokohama are “still in the mix.”
“Osaka looks promising due to their existing site layout and their overall aggressive stance in promoting IR and its positive impact upon the community,” he explained.
Still, according to Weiners, other cities on the contenders list would include Hokkaido, Wakayama, and Nagasaki.
“There is also a lot of aggressive promotion by the regional cities, so I believe the medium and smaller operators have a great opportunity to promote themselves and get involved with more regional locations,” he posited.
In addition to the strongest contenders – Osaka, Tokyo, Yokohama – the Galaxy VP has indicated other locations in the play.
“We have met with representatives from several cities and prefectures including Osaka, Tokyo, Yokohama, Kansai and Kanagawa among others,” said Walker.

Attendee List
Sociedade de Jogos de Macau (SJM) was on the list of attendees in the JgC despite earlier claims by Angela Leung that the company was not interested in pursuing the Japanese market.

Participants from the Japan Government
Japanese Diet
IR Diet Federation
Ministry of Trade & Industry
Prefecture of Nagasaki

Singapore Tourism Board

Galaxy Entertainment Group (GEG), Melco Resorts & Entertainment Limited, MGM Resorts International, Wynn Resorts, and Caesars Entertainment are the five ‘Operator Vision Provider Sponsors’ of JgC.

Source: JgC website