In the second quarter earning conference, Melco Resorts & Entertainment (NASDAQ: MLCO) CEO Lawrence Ho announced that his casino company is committed to bringing an integrated resort to Japan. Though Ho didn’t mention Yokohama specifically, it is the city the operator is interested in developing a gaming venue.
Yokohama is Japan’s second-largest city, and Melco will be competing with Genting Singapore for a license. However, the pandemic is presenting challenges to Japan and thus slowing the process of moving on with the integrated resort development plan.
Melco, which owns and operates integrated resorts in Macau and the Philippines, has been opportunistic about Japan’s new market. It is also an operator competing against a rival for the three Japan’s licenses. Osaka has chosen MGM Resorts and local partner Orix for its license, while Wakayama has chosen the Canadian private equity firm Clairvest Group.
MGM and Orix last week submitted a $9.1 billion proposal for Osaka integrated resort. However, a resort won’t open at least until 2028. As Melco continues coveting for Japan’s integrated resorts, it is unclear whether Japan’s officials will prefer Genting Singapore. However, there are speculations that Japanese officials like the Singapore gaming model to that of Macau.
Melco executive also noted some factors in Japan that cannot be controlled, including mayoral politics. Ho added that there is no guarantee that pro-casino Yokohama City Mayor Fumiko Hayashi will be reelected. Other candidates are against the establishment of the integrated resort.