When Japanese lawmakers first approved an initiative to bring casinos to the country by way of integrated resorts (IR), there was no shortage of interest on the part of gaming operators around the world. However, as time has progressed and COVID-19 wreaked havoc on the gaming industry, that interest has waned somewhat. Several big names have already bowed out after spending millions of dollars preparing for a shot at one of the first three IR licenses to be issued. Galaxy Entertainment is the latest to decide to take a step back, announcing that it will no longer move forward with plans to participate in the request-for-proposal (RFP) plans in Yokohama.
Yokohama On the Short List
Yokohama is one of several areas still determined to host an IR and recently introduced its RFP to potential licensees. It has been building up to this moment for more than a year, but has watched as certain casino operators changed their minds. Galaxy announced yesterday via a press release that it wouldn’t participate in the ongoing RFP; however, it didn’t specify why it was dropping out. The company’s vice chairman, Francis Lui, explained, “Galaxy Entertainment Group, along with our partners from Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer (SBM) from the Principality of Monaco, have been actively pursuing discussion for several years with the Japan Government and local communities including Yokohama. The world and business climate continues to evolve which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Although it will no longer consider Yokohama as an option, Galaxy reiterated its commitment to Japan’s IR market and said that it will still pursue a license somewhere else in the country. It didn’t specify where it might target its efforts going forward, or if it would continue to try to be one of the potential candidates in the first round of IR approvals. Japan is expected to select three cities next year, and those cities must have a casino partner in place before they can be chosen.
Casino Operators Turn Away from Yokohama
Wynn Resorts was once a candidate for a Yokohama casino and opened a new office there in 2019 to support its efforts. However, earlier this year, it announced that it was dropping out of the race. Las Vegas Sands, which indicated in October 2019 that it was willing to spend as much as $12 billion to build a casino resort in the country, dropped out in May of last year.
There are still other candidates, though. Genting Singapore, Melco Resorts and Entertainment and Sega Sammy Holdings are reportedly still involved. Yokohama’s IR team expects to receive the RFPs during the first 11 days of June, with a decision to be made in the following two months.