It’s almost impossible to lose a race in which you’re the only competitor, so it’s likely that MGM Resorts International wasn’t too concerned about not being selected as a casino operator for Osaka, Japan. The prefecture is hoping to win approval to host an integrated resort (IR) and, leading up to the close of the evaluation period, a consortium that includes MGM and Japanese financial firm ORIX Corp. was the only candidate in the running. However, looking at the scores the group was given, it’s apparent that MGM and ORIX could have invested more time into their project.
Osaka Officially Names MGM its Casino Partner
Osaka is one of only three regions in Japan that is still in consideration for an IR, with several locations dropping out over blowback from their local populations. There were initially more than three candidates vying for a chance to work with the prefecture; however, they slowly walked away, leaving only MGM and its consortium. Osaka has now officially made the group its casino partner, announcing it as the “winner” of the candidacy.
In an announcement about the results, Osaka asserted, “Currently, the global expansion of the coronavirus pandemic is having a serious impact on socio-economic and tourism-related industries, but the proposal from the MGM/ORIX consortium shows a deep understanding of the purpose of this project. Looking ahead to [post-coronavirus], the realization of a growth-type IR that makes use of the tourist attractions of Osaka/Kansai and the potential of industrial and cultural resources will become the engine of economic growth in Osaka/Kansai. The urban brand of Osaka will become a new internationally competitive city brand. It is a very ambitious proposal aimed at raising [the prefecture] to the next level.”
MGM Consortium IR Scores Were Weak
MGM has previously said that it would be willing to put as much as $9 billion into an Osaka IR. This, however, wasn’t necessarily reflected in the proposal the consortium delivered to Osaka. Based on the scoring the project received, the consortium might have lost the race if there had been other candidates. On the other hand, perhaps it didn’t feel it needed to spend a lot of time preparing an over-the-top venue since it was the only candidate.
Osaka reportedly judged the IR project based on several criteria, including originality, attractiveness and sustainability, implementation, uniqueness and responsible gaming. The highest possible score was 1,000 points, and the MGM-led project only scored 788.5. For each of the categories, the scores only reached, at most, two-thirds of the possible maximum. The weakest was uniqueness (officially, “Creation of high-quality, unique international tourism bases”), which achieved a score of 152.5 points out of a possible 200.
With the consortium’s place now official, Osaka can join Wakayama and Nagasaki as the only three destinations still competing for an IR in Japan. There is the potential for three locations to be selected; however, there exists the possibility that no location is chosen. The three will now work to submit their final proposals to the national government, with a final announcement likely to come before the end of next summer.