Osaka Sets April Deadline for Casino Projects, MGM Resorts Sole Bidder


Posted on: March 19, 2021, 08:54h.ย 

Last updated on: March 19, 2021, 09:45h.

The Osaka Prefecture government announced today that its request-for-proposal period for a potential integrated casino resort will run through April 6. Currently, only MGM Resorts has submitted a qualifying scheme.

Osaka casino integrated resort Japan
Osaka Mayor Ichiro Matsui is seen here at City Hall last year. The mayor and prefecture officials say any company that wants to submit a casino development needs to do so in a matter of weeks. (Image: AFP)

Osaka, one of the leading candidate cities for one of Japanโ€™s three forthcoming integrated resorts (IR), originally set a July deadline for consortiums to present casino tenders. Officials in Japanโ€™s third-largest city by population are apparently looking to set a more expedient schedule for its IR ambitions.ย 

Cities and prefectures across Japan are fielding proposals from interested casino parties. Once each region selects a winning bidder, they will make their cases to the national government in Tokyo. A special committee in the National Diet will decide which three presentations will receive gaming licenses.

MGM Osaka Commitment

MGM Resorts has long targeted Osaka for its casino dreams in Japan. The Nevada-headquartered global gaming company launched a campaign titled โ€œOsaka Firstโ€ in January of 2019.

The IR proposal and regional development plan offered by MGM Resorts should reflect the wonderful history and culture of Osaka and the Kansai region. We hope to continue deepening our relationships with those in the regional tourist industries, as well as the financial circles,โ€ said Jason Hyland, president of MGM Resorts Japan, in a statement issued at the time.ย 

Former MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren was a strong advocate for the company investing in Osaka. The gaming industry veteran visited Japan in March of 2019 to attend the MLB Opening Series at the Tokyo Dome between the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics.ย 

MGM Resorts Japan was a leading sponsor of the MLB event.ย 

โ€œWeโ€™ve made a decision to focus all of our energy on Osaka,โ€ Murren explained then. โ€œWe believe Osaka is going to be the first integrated resort location. The government is very excited about it.โ€

Of course, few could have imagined what 2020 would bring. COVID-19 prevented MGM from forming the relationships and partnerships in Japan and Osaka it sought. Murrenโ€™s replacement, Bill Hornbuckle, told MGM investors last month that the company is still โ€œa believer in Japan.โ€

However, the company is seeking a reduced role in the IR development. MGM has partnered with Japan-based financial services firm ORIX.

โ€œWeโ€™ve spent a lot of time and energy becoming the sole one standing โ€ฆ in Osaka,โ€ Hornbuckle explained. โ€œWe havenโ€™t had our people on the ground there for a better part of nine months. So, itโ€™s going to take some time to rebound. But we have that intent, and I believe that the government still has the same intent of moving forward.โ€ย 

Osaka Happy with MGM

Osaka officials saying RFPs should be submitted by early next month seemingly hints that the city is read to move forward with the MGM/ORIX presentation.ย 

As for specifics, Osaka has stated that casino proposals should initially feature at least 215,000 square feet of convention space, and within 15 years, expand to more than one million square feet. The resort should come with at least 3,000 hotel rooms, and the gaming space should not occupy more than three percent of the resortโ€™s total square footage.