Hard Rock Interested To Partner With Japanese Firms For Casino License
U.S-based casino operator Hard Rock Café International has indicated that it is open to having a flexible arrangement with local partners in Japan, which is expected to become the world’s second largest gaming market.
Japan passed a bill in December 2016 that legalized gambling in the country allowing for the development of integrated resorts. It is widely expected that there will be two licenses issued. A second bill that will contain provisions relating to areas like licensing and operations is still awaited.
All major international casino operators like MGM Resorts International, Wynn Resorts and Las Vegas Sands have expressed an interest in the Japanese market. As one of the top economies of the world, analysts expect the industry’s annual revenue to reach anywhere between $10 million to $40 million once the casinos are operational. International operators will need to partner with local entities for their venture in Japan according to gaming experts.
Hard Rock which is known for its music-themed cafes has a string of casinos across the world, with 11 of them in North America. It recently set up a subsidiary in Japan with intention of pursing a license in the country. The company is owned by Seminole Tribe of Florida. According Chairman James Allen, Hard Rock is seeking Japanese companies to partner with in a consortium.
In a statement Allen said,
We are looking at 40-60 percent equity participation. It's important to make sure our local partners are involved in the relationship, not just as blind investors
Allen stated that so far 20 to 30 potential firms have been identified as potential partners that includes manufacturers, landlords and financial institutions. The company has appointed industry veteran Edward Tracy, who was earlier with rival Las Vegas Sands’ China to lead the organization’s efforts in the country.
Tracy has also commented that Hard Rock was getting ready to be in a position to move fast once the second legislation is passed. He is expecting the bill to be introduced and cleared over the next twelve months. Some locations that have interested the company are Osaka, Hokkaido and Okinawa but Tracy has clarified that these discussions were still at an early stage.
Likening the process to a bullet train, he said that once the application procedure starts, companies will need to be at the forefront of it and not be trying to play catch up. It is expected that the operator selection will be wrapped up by 2019 and the first of the casinos will open by 2023.
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