MGM and Las Vegas Sands the Most Likely Candidates for Japan IRs?

The Japanese saga continues as the biggest casino operators in the world compete for the three licenses offered by the Japanese government. Ever since the lawmakers of Japan gave a green light to building three IRs on the Japanese ground, many saw this opportunity as a way to expand their businesses, and there is a good reason for that. According to many analyses, Japan could set out to become as big as Las Vegas or Macau. The resorts that are about to be built are mainly targeted at tourists, but Japanese citizens will also have an opportunity to experience them, although under strict control.


Morgan Stanley analysts did thorough research when it comes to resorts that are competing to receive the first license for building and operating an IR in the Country of the Rising Sun. According to this brokerage firm, the two companies that are currently leading the way are MGM Resorts and Las Vegas Sands. In fact, one of them is very likely to be chosen and start overseeing the operations related to a resort that would probably be built in Osaka. In fact, Osaka is discussed as one of the primary locations for one of the IRs.

Osaka is actually both a prefecture and a city, and their governments started accepting applications by companies that aimed to become their casino partners. This process began in late April and is currently underway. The project in Osaka attracted a lot of big players from all over the world, including MGM and Las Vegas Sands. Other competitors in the Osaka race are Wynn Resorts and Melco Resorts and Entertainment. According to Morgan Stanley’s Analysts, Wynn Resorts has a disadvantage due to all the recent stories about the sexual improprieties of the owner.

Sands or MGM – A Tough Call

Las Vegas Sands is a company that already has operations in Japan, and they could be beneficial once the building of the IR commences. In other words, the officials that review bids might, in the end, opt for Sands due to their presence in Japan. Sands also pays a lot of attention to helping in expanding MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions) in every area where they are present.

On the other hand, MGM is also playing the game carefully and planning every step in advance. Their biggest advantage at the moment is that they joined forces with Orix, which is a really big financial group from Japan that has managed to strengthen their position when it comes to getting an IR license.

However, these predictions are still made very early as there is still time before the winner is chosen. The exact date of announcing who gets a license is still far away and unknown. According to some, this may happen by the end of 2019 or mid-2020. The venue needs to be ready before 2025 World Expo Osaka, and the longer they take to decide, the more difficult it would be for the chosen casino operator to complete all the works by this deadline.

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