Osaka, one of the Japanese cities bidding to become home to an integrated resort, is so eager to have that venue at least somewhat ready by the time it hosts the World Expo in 2025 that it’s considering a partial opening of the gaming property in 2024.
Yumeshima, an artificial island in Osaka Bay, is expected to be the site of a gaming venue should the city emerge as one of the winners of Japan’s first three gaming licenses. That area is also expected to be central to the city’s preparation efforts for the World Expo.
Officials in the city, Japan’s third-largest, are concerned that overlap between World Expo planning and integrated resort construction will delay the latter, potentially making the gaming property unavailable to the tourists flocking to the region for the 2025 event.
Osaka is desperately aiming to launch a casino resort in 2024 to gain possible synergistic effects from an expo it will host the following year,” reports the Mainichi Shimbun.
MGM Resorts International, long committed to the city, is viewed as the leader to build a gaming property there, but faces competition from Galaxy Entertainment Group and Genting Singapore.
Recently, an unidentified operator that participated in Osaka’s request for concept process said that in order for a casino-resort to be ready sometime in 2024, construction would need to commence immediately. MGM executives have previously noted the 2025 timeline is ambitious.
The company’s Japan push, led by former Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval (R), could be boosted if it can convince policymakers in Osaka that it can ready the integrated resort in advance of the World Expo, which starts in May 2025. MGM is working with Japanese industrial conglomerate Orix to bring a casino to the Land of the Rising Sun.
Sandoval hasn’t publicly commented on MGM’s ability to have an Osaka gaming property operational by 2024 or 2025. But some analysts believe 2025 is feasible if the company can break ground on the venue by 2021 at the latest.
Osaka Mayor Ichiro Matsui recently acknowledged that there are many variables factoring into the 2024-25 goal, but said that his city isn’t giving up that an operator can have the gaming venue fully functional in advance of the World Expo.
Osaka lawmakers have recently been active in advancing the city’s efforts to not only land a gaming property, but have it ready by late 2024 or early 2025.
In late October, plans for a new maritime terminal were announced. Not only would the new port increase access to the integrated resort, it would serve as a launching point for sending staff and supplies to the casino construction and World Expo sites, because it will be ready by 2024.
Days later, city officials announced that they’re moving up the land transfer timeline from mid-2022 to late 2021, which could accelerate the integrated resort process, potentially helping the selected operator start construction sooner than previously expected.