Macau casino mogul Lawrence Ho has his sights on Japan for a $5 billion investment to develop casino resorts in Tokyo and Osaka.
In an interview in Tokyo, Ho, the son of gambling tycoon Stanley Ho, said Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd. is awaiting permission to build projects in the two Japanese cities.
“The potential is huge for integrated resorts in Japan,” said Ho, co-chairman of the Hong Kong-based casino operator. “If Japan opens up and allows integrated resorts in Tokyo, Osaka, the market could easily be in excess of $10 billion to $15 billion or more.”
Ho said he has been lobbying with multiple Japanese cabinet members for the legalization of casinos in the country.
Melco Crown, a venture between Ho and Australian billionaire James Packer, has current developments in Manila and Macau, and plans to invest in two Russian casino resorts.
US-based competitors such as Wynn Resorts Ltd, MGM Resorts International and Las Vegas Sands Corp. are also seeking expansion opportunities in Japan as Tokyo’s selection to host the 2020 Olympic Games has boosted confidence that the government will finally approve of gambling.
Wynn and MGM executives have said their companies would invest several billion dollars in Japan, long touted as an attractive gaming market with a large and relatively rich population base.
The country would generate $10 billion in casino revenue a year should it open up a gambling market. This would make it the world’s second-largest, according to Union Gaming Group LLC.
By: Maesie Bertumen
Image of a pachinko parlor: bass_nroll/Flickr