The giant resort, located on Yumeshima, a reclaimed island in Osaka Bay that will host the 2025 World Expo, will also include hotels, a convention center, shopping mall, museum and ferry terminal, reported Reuters.
Casinos have already been banned in Japan along with other private gambling, but the 2018 Integrated Resorts Law provides an exemption for casino games such as poker or baccarat at licensed establishments under efforts to attract tourists. Japan is considered a valuable market for casino operators due to its affluent population of 126 million and its proximity to wealthy Asian gamblers, although opinion polls have shown many citizens are concerned by gambling addiction and crime. US casino operator MGM Resorts International and local partner Orix Corp led the Osaka IR project, each holding a 40% stake in the company set up to run the resort. Another 20 companies own the remaining 20%, according to a local government document that says MUFG Bank and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp will provide 550 billion yen in project financing for the station.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Friday the project would boost economic growth in the Kansai region around Osaka and across Japan after the 2025 World Expo as the country seeks a post-pandemic recovery in tourism spending. The resort will generate 520 billion yen in annual revenue, mostly from the gaming sector, and is expected to attract 6 million foreign tourists and 14 million local visitors, according to project documents.
The national government’s decision came after the pro-casino Japan Innovation Party retained the posts of Osaka prefectural governor and city hall on Sunday. A survey of Osaka residents this month by the Mainichi newspaper found that 45% of respondents were in favor of casinos, 38% were against and 17% were undecided, although women and the elderly were more likely to be against.
Japan’s plans for casinos have been hampered in the past by the coronavirus pandemic and a corruption scandal that led to the arrest of a top lawmaker. Large global casino operators in this regard have abandoned their planned plans. Only Osaka and Southwestern Nagasaki Prefecture applied before the April 2022 deadline.
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