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Japan’s Casino Resorts to Feature Nation’s Largest Hotels, MICE Venues

Japan’s first casino resorts will feature some of the nation’s largest hotels and conference centers, if a recently announced set of standards gets the necessary approval from the Diet, local news outlet The Japan Times reports

Japanese lawmakers introduced on Friday a number of requirements of what the nation’s first integrated resorts with gaming floors will be obligated to feature. Under that set of standards, the properties will have to include hotels with more than 100,000 square meters dedicated for guest rooms.

Accommodation facilities at the resorts will have to feature at least 2,000 hotel rooms with an average size of 50 square meters. Under the newly announced requirements, the number of rooms at these new hotels will far exceed the number of rooms at some of Japan’s largest existing hotels.

The requirements will need approval from the Diet. As noted by The Japan Times, a vote on these could take place late in March after the end of a public comment period on March 4.

The legalization of casinos within larger integrated resorts was a topic that Japanese lawmakers discussed for nearly a decade before the first of a two-phase legislative process passed a Diet vote in December 2016. Legislators voted in favor of the so-called Integrated Resort Promotion Bill that effectively legalized casino gambling in the country.

Last summer, the government approved a second piece – the Integrated Resort Implementation Bill – that set the rules and principles under which the nation’s casino industry would be managed. However, as it can be seen, essential details of how Japan’s integrated resorts and casinos within these will look are still to be sorted out.

Focus on MICE

The business and MICE tourism industries annually contribute trillions of dollars to the global economy and Japan is looking to become an even more active participant in that lucrative market with the addition of more conference and convention facilities.

MICE facilities will comprise a huge portion of the nation’s first casino resorts. Under the recently introduced integrated resort standards, the properties will be required to feature an exhibition hall with a conference room that occupies at least 120,000 square meters and holds at least 6,000 people, or a hybrid venue with a 60,000-square-meter convention room and a conference room that can accommodate 3,000 people. The MICE facilities at the integrated resorts will thus exceed the nation’s largest existing conference and exhibition venues.

Under the Integrated Resort Implementation Bill, casinos at the properties will have to occupy no more than 3% of the total floor area. Thar requirement was included in a larger package of rules that aim to prevent Japan’s first integrated resorts from turning into a boon for illegal dealings and gambling addiction among nationals.

Other measures regarding Japan’s first casino operations include a ban on Macau-style junket promoters, an entry fee for Japanese residents of JPY6,000, and a limit of ten visits per month yet again for nationals.

It also emerged recently that ads promoting the nation’s casinos will only be limited to the confines of the actual resorts as well as to international terminals at Japan’s airports and seaports.

When Will Japan’s Casinos Open Doors?

The Japanese government plans to issue three gaming licenses during its initial casino licensing process. This means that there will be three integrated resorts build in three different parts of the country, each featuring a casino, among a plethora of facilities. It is yet to be announced where exactly the three properties will be built.

According to a recent survey by Kyodo News, of Japan’s 47 prefectures and 20 major cities, only three jurisdictions have confirmed plans to apply with the government to host one of the nation’s first integrated casino resorts.

While local officials might be a bit reluctant when it comes to the development of casino facilities, a number of global gaming and hospitality giants have shown huge interest in entering what many analysts believe would be a market that would top $10 billion (there are also ambitious projections of $25 billion in gaming revenue a year).

Las Vegas powerhouses Las Vegas Sands, MGM Resorts International, and Wynn Resorts as well as Malaysia’s Genting Group and Macau’s Melco Resorts & Entertainment have all revealed plans to participate in what could be the gambling industry’s largest beauty pageant ever.

While the Japanese government is tight-lipped on when exactly it plans to open the bidding process for companies interested to obtain a casino license, analysts believe that this will happen as early as the end of 2019. With that said, Japan’s first integrated resorts are not likely to open doors before the mid-2020s.

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