Melco Resorts & Entertainment has opened an office in Osaka in a bid to capitalise on the fledgling Japanese gambling market.
The new facility, first mooted in October, is located close to the proposed Osaka Harbour site of the $7.35bn man-made island Yumashima, hailed as the potential home for the city’s gambling industry by 2024.
“We will make the necessary investments,” said Ako Shiraogawa, president of Melco Japan, addressing Melco’s future in the city. “Even if severe conditions are imposed and the world’s strictest regulations are put in place.”
Though the office, opened on 9 April, is primarily a sales suite for Melco’s MelGuard biometric casino security system, the site will also provide headquarters for CEO Lawrence Ho’s ongoing bid to gain approval for a Japanese integrated resort.
“Aside from Macau, Japan should be the best market,” said Ho during Beijing’s People Political Consultative Conference in March.
Having first met with Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto in 2012, Ho has made repeated attempts to establish a licence agreement, going so far as to outline a Japanese ‘City of the Future’ integrated resort during a November 2017 presentation in Tokyo.
“We will do in Japan what we have done since our very first day,” said Ho during the presentation, “build with local partners, invest in extraordinary world-first architecture and design, [and] create sophisticated entertainment experiences.”
Despite Ho’s enthusiasm, Melco may face stiff competition for the title of first IR operator in Japan, or even Osaka, with rival MGM Resorts maintaining a neighbouring office in the city since 2014.