Las Vegas Sands Corp. (LVS) and Wynn Resorts Ltd., two of the largest US gaming companies, are expected to be among the seven operators competing to bring an integrated resort to Yokohama.
Officials in Japan’s second-largest city recently said they have received seven proposals in a request for concept (RFC) phase. The RFC process is open until Dec. 23, during which time other companies can get involved. When the RFC procedure is complete, city officials will use the proposals to guide implementation protocols, which are expected to be released sometime next year.
The city didn’t reveal the names of the seven companies that have thus far participated in the RFC round, but LVS, Wynn, Melco Resorts & Entertainment, Galaxy Entertainment Group, and Genting Singapore have previously expressed interest in Yokohama.
While there’s plenty of opposition to gaming venues among locals, Yokohama leaders are pushing forward with plans to lure casino operators to ease budget deficits.
You might think of Yokohama as this big, rosy city known for hosting a wide variety of events, but every year we find ourselves saddled with deficits of about ¥50 billion (almost $460 million) when compiling our budgets. That’s the reality,” said Mayor Fumiko Hayashi earlier this year.
Hayashi has said she wants the city to partner with one operator to vie for an integrated resort permit to be awarded by the Japanese government. Gaming companies and the city are eyeing Yamashita Pier near Tokyo Bay as the preferred location for a casino-resort in Yokohama.
Plenty Of Interest
Several of Japan’s smaller cities are also engaged in the integrated resort competition. But the country’s initial batch of awards will feature just three gaming licenses. That, coupled with many operators’ preference for larger metropolitan areas, has Tokyo, Yokohama and Osaka seen as the prime candidates to become homes to the first gaming properties in the Land of the Rising Sun.
Over the past several months, some gaming companies have opted to focus on a single location. However, Galaxy Entertainment Group and Genting Singapore, both of which participated in the Yokohama RFC process, also remain interested in Osaka as a potential integrated resort destination.
In August, LVS, the largest US casino company, made clear it prefers Tokyo or Yokohama as a site for a new gaming property. A month later, Melco Resorts said it’s focusing solely on Yokohama and plans to build the world’s largest casino there, if it wins a license.
Although Wynn Resorts is believed to have been involved in the Yokohama RFC procedure, that company overtly stated a preference for building a casino-resort in the Kanto region, which includes Tokyo, last month.
In Need Of A Jolt
While there’s opposition to casino gaming in Yokohama, it’s easy to understand why politicians there want to bring an integrated resort to town, and those reasons extend beyond the aforementioned budget woes.
The city is currently home to 3.72 million residents, but that figure is expected to peak this year and steadily decline in the years ahead, potentially straining the region’s ability to collect taxes.
Additionally, local infrastructure is in dire need of updating, and those projects aren’t cheap. Policymakers are hoping a new gaming property will bring more tourists to the city and create more jobs, bolstering revenue in the process.