Japan to build its first casino in Osaka for $13.5 billion

Japan’s first casino will be built in the city of Osaka, according to an announcement on Friday. The resort, scheduled to open in 2029, will cost 1.8 trillion yen ($13.5 billion).

Casinos and other forms of private gambling were previously banned in Japan, but an integrated resort (IR) law passed in 2018 made an exception for casino games such as poker or baccarat at places authorized by the government to attract tourists.

Japan’s 126 million wealthy residents and proximity to wealthy Asian gamblers make it a valuable market for casino owners, although surveys reveal that many are concerned about excessive gambling.

The Osaka casino project was led by US operator MGM Resorts International and local partner Orix Corp, each owning a 40% stake in the business established to build and manage the complex.

A local government document noted that MUFG Bank and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp would provide JPY550 billion in project finance for the resort, with another 20 entities holding the remaining 20%.

The initiative, according to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, will help the Kansai region around Osaka and Japan’s economy at large to flourish after the World Expo 2025 event, as the country strives for a post-pandemic recovery, especially in the tourism sector.

Casino in Osaka could attract 6 million foreign tourists and 14 million local tourists

The resort and casino project in Osaka will seek to generate 520 billion yen in revenue annually, primarily from the gaming industry, and aims to attract six million foreign tourists and 14 million domestic visitors.

MGM Resorts, Orix and the City and Prefecture of Osaka expressed their appreciation for the decision and their intention to collaborate in the development of the project.