One of the biggest casino operators in the world, called Melco Resorts & Entertainment (aka MRE), is changing its strategy towards Japanese integrated resorts (IRs). Until recently, they focused all their attention on Osaka, but it seems that the area is not interesting to them anymore.
Right now, they’ve expressed their wish to actually focus on another popular Japanese city called Yokohama. They made the decision shortly after some of their rivals changed their focus as well.
The CEO of Melco, Lawrence Ho, stated on Wednesday that the company was adopting a new strategy towards Japan that they simply named “Yokohama first.” He added that the company aimed to build an integrated resort in Yokohama which would be one of a kind in this world.
Finally, Ho concluded that Yokohama and MRE could become partners who would make Yokohanama “an international tourist destination.”
There Were Signs
Melco actually opened an office in Yokohama a couple of weeks ago, and that was one of the first signs that the company was planning on shifting from Osaka to Yokohama. This was a bit of a shock for everyone since MRE made a huge 49-hectare project for an IR Osaka that would include a huge water amusement park, six hotels, a big Japanese garden and more.
Right now, all of those seem like empty promises to everyone who hoped for their plan to get realized. Now, as they are shifting away from Osaka, people who liked the idea could only hope for a better project in the future.
Ho also thanked the officials of Osaka since they had some very constructive dialogues with Melco about the potential IR. However, despite the overall agreement of the two sides, Melco is shifting its focus elsewhere, so the officials of Osaka spent their time and words in vain.
It’s All a Game of Big Players
So, why would Melco make such a big decision and move away from Osaka when it had already invested so much time, energy and money to make it happen? Well, they are not the first casino operator to make such a decision, as Ho simply followed the footsteps of Las Vegas Sands and its head, Sheldon Adelson.
Adelson also recently announced that they were abandoning their plans for Osaka as they wanted to focus on other places such as Yokohama and Tokyo.
On top of that, Boomberry Resorts, a casino operator from the Philippines, also decided earlier this year to give up on Osaka.
However, Osaka is not completely abandoned at the moment. The CEO of MGM Resorts, Jim Murren, is still hanging to his “Osaka first” plan, which he came upon this spring.
Moreover, other popular operators such as Galaxy Entertainment Group, Wynn Resorts, and Genting are still very much interested in building an integrated resort in this big Japanese city. It’s only a matter of time when the Japanese officials will decide which companies will get licenses for building and operating IRs.