Japan has approved construction of its first integrated resort in Osaka as part of efforts to boost domestic and international tourism spending in the western Honshu city.
The complex, which was proposed by Osaka City and Osaka Prefecture, is expected to attract 20 million guests, including six million from overseas, annually, when it opens in 2029. Operators are targeting 520 billion yen (US$3.9 billion) in revenue per year.
The 490,000m2 site of the 1.08 trillion yen project is Yumeshima island in Osaka Bay, the site of Expo 2025. In addition to a casino, it will comprise hotels, a conference centre, an exhibition hall, a shopping mall, a museum and a theatre. There will also be a ferry terminal and helicopter pad to provide easy access for high-net-worth individuals.
Announcing the decision, prime minister Fumio Kishida said: “Integrated resorts are a necessary initiative in promoting our country as a tourism-based nation. They will attract a lot of visitors from Japan and abroad.”
The move by the central government follows years of controversy surrounding the introduction of casinos and the implementation of a 2018 integrated resort law to permit casino games such as poker and baccarat in Japan, where casinos and private gambling have long been illegal.
US casino operator MGM Resorts International and local partner Orix Corporation will each own 40 per cent of the facility, with the remaining 20 per cent stake held by some 20 companies including West Japan Railway, Panasonic Holdings and Kansai Electric Power Company, according to the Osaka Prefectural Government.
Meanwhile, Nagasaki Prefecture, which submitted its plan for an integrated resort at the same time as Osaka, is awaiting a decision by the Japanese government on its proposed 438 billion yen project in partnership with Casinos Austria.