International casino operators are all preparing to get a lucrative piece of the recently legalized gambling market in Japan. Gaming analysts have stated that the gambling industry in Japan could generate more than $20 billion in gaming and non-gaming revenue and pose serious competition for Macau – which is currently the biggest gambling hub in the world.
Japanese legislators are currently in the process of working out their gaming regulation bill and analysts believe that Japan will initially offer only two casino licenses. As a result, gaming operators are expected to make lavish proposals to secure one of these coveted casino licenses. Some of the gaming operators who have already expressed interest are Las Vegas Sands Corp, Wynn Resorts, Hard Rock International, MGM Resorts, Crown Resorts and Melco International.
Research firm Morningstar hosted a meeting recently which was attended by 25 key executives representing the gaming industry. During the meeting, Morningstar executives discussed the new Japanese gaming industry and focused on the casino operators who stood a good chance of obtaining a gaming license in Japan. Morningstar states that although Wynn Resorts is one of the biggest casino brands in the United States, they would not be in a strong position to secure a casino license for two main reasons.
Steve Wynn – Kazuo Okada
The most obvious reason is the ongoing lawsuit between Wynn Resorts chairman Steve Wynn and Japanese casino tycoon Kazuo Okada. The two gaming tycoons were one close business associates and Okada was the vice-chairman of Wynn Resorts. When news broke that Okada had offered bribes to officials in the Philippines to secure a casino license in the country, Steve Wynn removed Okada as vice-chairman and the relationship was over.
Okada countersued Wynn and denied all allegations but that lawsuit hasn’t been settled still and there is no indication as of now as to when a decision will be made. The two casino licenses are expected to be issued in 2019 and casino operators who apply for a gaming license will have to submit detailed documentation highlighting their financial health, working history with various partners and their proposed investment plans. Since the partnership between Wynn and Okada has soured, it could hurt Wynn Resort’s chances of securing a gaming license.
M.I.C.E
The second reason why Wynn Resorts is at a disadvantage in securing a gaming license in Japan is because the competition has a better record when it comes to meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE). Japanese legislators could make MICE credentials a huge factor in shortlisting applications and that would make Las Vegas Sands Corp and MGM Resorts favorites.
Sands Corp currently operates over 5 million in MICE space and MGM Resorts controls over 3 million whereas Wynn Resorts operates only 400,000 square feet of MICE.
In a statement, Morningstar said “While Wynn Resorts has a successful track record of constructing and operating luxury resorts, its involvement with bribery litigation, along with its weaker MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions) and balance sheet position relative to MGM and Sands, leads us to believe that the company is unlikely to receive one of the two urban gaming concessions in Osaka and Yokohama.”
Wynn Resorts Not Concerned
Wynn Resorts is not paying too much attention to the Morningstar report as Michael Weaver, chief marketing officer of Wynn Resorts stated that he did not believe that the Steve Wynn- Kazuo Okada lawsuit will have any impact on the licensing process. Union Gaming analysts also echoed the same view and stated that they believed that the licensing criteria would focus on issues that were a lot more important.
Morningstar went on to say that they believe that Japanese legislators would not issue two but four casino licenses. Two of those licenses would be for major cities like Tokyo and Osaka and two more would be for regional locations. International gaming operators are expected to compete only for the gaming licenses that would allow them to develop integrated resorts in major cities.
Las Vegas Sands Corp and MGM Resorts estimate that a $10 billion investment would be the standard and are ready to make the investment. Morningstar believes that Japanese legislators will force international operators to partner with local firms and limit their stake in the resort to 33 percent, which means they would invest around 3.5 billion only.

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For nearly two decades, we’ve provided the best in class for poker site reviews, top online poker bonuses, strategy tips, poker news, and exclusive free poker content.  Consisting of a team of poker and gambling experts, we deliver the best online poker brand experience for players of all levels, from the fish to the sharks.