Melco Resorts CEO Lawrence Ho Reaffirms Dedication to Yokohama Casino

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On July 27 this year, Melco Resorts and Entertainment (NASDAQ: MLCO) echoed its interest to introduce a unified resort to Japan on the firm’s second-quarter returns conference call.

Although CEO Lawrence Ho didn’t mention Yokohama specifically, it is where the contractor desires to build a gaming venue. Melco is competing with Genting Singapore in the second-biggest city of Japan, which is highly considered the favorite.

During a conference call with an analyst, Ho says,

“In Japan, we remain committed to bringing a world-leading integrated resort there and continue to pursue opportunities within the market where we remain actively engaged with our partners.” 

Furthermore, Melco’s CEO reveals that the COVID-19 pandemic is raising challenges in Japan regarding travel and processing time. But he states that integrated resort building is in progress.

Where integrated resorts in the Philippines and Macau run, Melco has long been idealistic about Japan as a new market. However, it is the only firm contending against a competitor for one of Japan’s initial three gaming licenses. Local partner Orix and MGM Resorts in Osaka have their field, while in Wakayama, Canadian private equity company Clairvest Group is the solitary bidder.

Lawrence Ho, Melco Avid About Japan

Although the process of Japan’s integrated resort is taking longer than the operators expected, with the pandemic presenting more delay, Ho remains passionate about introducing a premium gaming venue to the world’s third-biggest economy. On a call, he says,

“We remain convinced that Japan represents the best potential new gaming market globally and that the quality of our assets and our focus on a premium segment is a great fit for the country’s tourism development. We remain patient and continue to maintain our disciplined approach concerning all development activities, including in Japan.”

Melco’s Asia-Pacific operative experience could work to its advantage since that is a trait envied by Japanese officials. But competitor Genting Singapore owns that as well, and there are speculations Japanese dominances prefer the Singapore gaming standard to that of Macau.

A few days back, Osaka received a $ 9.1 billion proposal from MGM and Orix, a more competitive rate than initially anticipated. However, it is speculated that even with proposal approval, the venue will not open until 2028 at the earliest.

Genting Has a Strong Hand

When it comes to the first three gaming licenses the country will give, Japanese executives prefer those permits to go to firms with Asia-Pacific hand-on experience, something own by Melco and Genting. Genting Singapore operates Resorts World Sentosa, one of the two gaming assets in the city-state.  

Tan, in a presentation, says,

“Resorts World Sentosa operates in an environment where the operational and regulatory regime was of the highest standard, and such experience would be of significant value to the city of Yokohama and Japan.”

‘Beyond Our Control’

According to Melco executives, some aspects in Japan are not easy to control, including mayoral politics. Currently, the Yokohama pro-casino candidate, Mayor Fumiko Hayashi, is seeking re-election though there is no guarantee she will go for another term. Evan Winkler, Melco president, says,

“in terms of the specifics that you have mentioned, the incumbent mayor has come out and is running on a pro-IR platform.” “There are a variety of other candidates who have come out against IR. As Lawrence articulated, some of these things are simply beyond our control. And we will all know more after the election takes place in Yokohama on August 22.”

Likely Favorite

In core United States elections, candidates usually spend years campaigning for office. Similarly, political efforts are in operations for a suitable time in Japan. However, their official groundings are impeding closer to the confirmed election date.