MGM Boss Says a Japanese Resort by 2025 Requires ‘Surgical Precision’

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Jim Murren, MGM Resorts CEO
  • Osaka can execute Japan’s IR project on time
  • Challenges in MICE business persist
  • Japan’s IR offers the best ROI the gaming world has seen

MGM Resorts boss Jim Murren spoke at the Strategic Decisions Conference 2019 and discussed the future IR in Japan, citing solid ROI and issues to be worked on.

MGM Resorts’ Murren Discusses Osaka’s IR Prospects

“Surgical precision,” this is what MGM Resorts Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jim Murren says would be needed for Osaka to welcome a fully-developed Integrated Resort project by 2025. Yet, it all seems possible, Murren noted at the Strategic Decisions Conference 2019 organized by Sanford C. Bernstein and Co LLC.

Osaka has shown commitment to becoming one of the prefectures to host the resort and so far as the development goes, Murren is convinced that the host of the project will have access to all the development resources to see the project through on time for the World Expo in 2025. Here’s what Murren said, cited by GGR Asia:

It requires almost surgical precision, not just by the developer, but by the government; from a permitting perspective, from an infrastructure perspective. It’s certainly not impossible.”

Osaka has definitely got a headway on all other locations as the project is now focusing on the prefecture. For companies from other regions of Japan to participate, they would first need to acquire a license on a prefecture-level, and only then make a formal application to participate in development or to try and bring the entire project closer to home.

Murren said that inbound tourism would grow thanks to the IR project. Even though Osaka has been very keen on attracting the project and now has probably succeeded. The thing that gave Murren reasons for concerns is that historically Tokyo and Osaka aren’t hubs for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE).

Navigating the Japanese Regulatory Waters – MGM Not Afraid

MGM have experience operating in sensitive markets, mainly through their subsidiary in China with MGM China Holdings Ltd. The Macau operations of the company have been profitable and doing well. Responding to whether MGM had concerns about the Japanese market, Murren said that regulations in their current form suited MGM.

Unlike Macau’s junket market, Japan will have a much more down-to-earth approach. VIP and high-rollers will be targeted, but the country won’t seek to replicate the junket models of other Asian gaming hubs, styling itself closer to a Las Vegas type of operation.

Murren has said that the recent influx of brands trying to get a foothold into the Japanese market was quite understandable as everything from construction costs to regulations offered unprecedented potential return on the investment.

“I can’t think of an opportunity in the world today with as potentially high a return on investment,” he concluded.

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