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Japan to build first casino on Yumeshima

Japan to build first casino on Yumeshima


Casinos and other forms of private gambling have long been prohibited in Japan, but in 2018, an integrated resort law made an exception for casino games played in places designated by the government to draw tourists. The artificial island of Yumeshima, in Osaka, clearly fits that bill, and an integrated resort, costing $13.5bn and including Japan’s first casino, has been given the go-ahead.

In addition to hotels, a conference centre, a shopping centre, a museum and a ferry port, the huge resort complex will also feature a helicopter pad nearby for high rollers.

The Osaka government estimates that the project will create 15,000 jobs and generate JPY¥520bn (US$3.9bn) in annual revenue. Japan’s 126m affluent residents and proximity to Asia’s wealthy gamblers have long made it a prized potential market.

The Osaka project has been led by US operator MGM Resorts and local partner Orix Corporation, with each owning a 40% stake in the company established to build and run the complex. The MUFG Bank and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation will provide JPY¥550bn ($4.1bn) in project financing for the resort, with another 20 entities holding the remaining 20%.

Japanese Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, says that the project will help the Kansai region around Osaka and larger Japan’s economy flourish after the World Expo 2025 event as the nation strives for a post-pandemic recovery in tourist spending, stating that the complex will “become a tourism base that will disseminate the charm of Japan to the world.”