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Last month the Japanese government passed a controversial new law permitting casino resorts to open up around the country.

It is suggested that the first license is to be offered by 2020, with up to three integrated resorts (IR) initially believed to be welcomed, plus a target of doubling international tourist numbers by 2030 also being set.

Passage however did come with a variety of stipulations, including Japanese residents being charged a $54 entrance fee and being limited to a set number of visits per month, with international visitors able to enter free of charge.

CasinoBeats has been speaking to IR developer and operator Galaxy Entertainment Group’s Japan team regarding the IR bill, it’s wider implications and the numerous benefits set to be felt.

We are delighted that the Diet has ratified the IR Implementation Bill”

CasinoBeats: How important was the passage of the integrated resorts implementation bill? What potential benefits could this have for the country of Japan?

Galaxy Entertainment Group: We appreciate that the passing of the bill is just the first step to full implementation, with detailed regulations that will govern the industry still yet to be defined. We look forward to continuing the dialogue with the government to ensure the regulations are appropriate for Japan to achieve its stated objectives.

We are delighted that the Diet has ratified the IR Implementation Bill. With IR’s acting as the catalyst, the bill will open the door for a greater number of international tourists to visit Japan in the years to come – helping to achieve the Government’s objective of attracting 60 million inbound visitors by 2030.

No one should underestimate Japan’s ability to create world class Integrated Resorts”

CB: With three initial IR licenses to be offered, how fierce are you expecting the competition to be?

GEG: GEG and our partners SBM are fully committed to development in Japan, wherever the Japanese government decides to permit Integrated Resorts.

We believe that Japan has a huge opportunity to create something unique, that doesn’t just follow the Las Vegas model seen in many other markets around the world.  

We believe the GEG and SBM partnership represents something completely different to all other IR operators – promising the best of Asia and the best of Europe – with a genuine care for the communities in which we do business.

Both GEG and S.B.M. have a strong track record in being most respectful of local traditions, and have been culturally sensitive when doing business in other countries.

The Lui family and GEG parent company K. Wah have been doing business in Japan and/or with Japanese partners for over 50 years. We have developed numerous long-term business relationships during that time, including with a long-standing business partnership with Japan’s leading hotel brand – Okura Hotels and Resorts.

No other consortium has 150 years experience in developing and operating Integrated Resort experiences as SBM does, with such an international recognition all over the world, including the major Asian countries and specifically Japan. 

Japan has a once in a lifetime opportunity”

CB: Why would Galaxy Entertainment Group be suitable for one of these licenses? What stands you out from the crowd?

GEG: GEG is continuing to invest in its flagship property, Galaxy Macau, the world’s largest IR in terms of gross gaming revenue. GEG’s IR business is supporting the development of industries prioritised by the Macau government, and has boosted Macau’s per-capita GDP to No. 1 in Asia and No. 3 worldwide.

GEG’s balance sheet and track record in developing the most successful and spectacular IRs in the world speaks for itself, as does S.B.M’s unrivalled record in creating the world’s most sophisticated IR destination – so in conjunction with our local Japanese partners, Japan should be very confident that we will deliver something unique that it’s citizens will be very proud of.

Culturally sensitive. GEG along with our partners from the Principality of Monaco are the only consortium to offer both an Asian and European team, renowned for creating luxurious resort experiences – we’re truly international and unique when compared with the Vegas operators.

We believe that patiently listening to and learning from the government, community and business partners on what they want to achieve through IR development is critical to success.

We don’t believe in making hasty statements, bold pledges or conclusions on what would be best for Japan, without first consulting these important stakeholders in the process.  

Partnership. No one should underestimate Japan’s ability to create world class Integrated Resorts with or without international involvement, which is why we were the first to announce our plans to team up with local partners to ensure any proposal put forward is first and foremost right for Japan.

Community. We believe that responsible and sustainable development, in collaboration with Japanese partners, will be the key route to success for any Integrated Resort in Japan.

We are committed to being a good corporate citizen, with an ongoing sense of giving back and sharing the success of the IR with the citizens of the community in which we operate, supporting a wide range of social, philanthropic and volunteering activities, plus contributing to environmental sustainability.

We operate with these values in Macau, as do our partners SBM in Monaco and would do the same in Japan.   

IR’s will create thousands of jobs for both the young and the old”

CB: Which areas of Japan do you believe would be most suitable for an IR? Are any areas in need of one to revive/boost tourism numbers?

GEG: GEG and our partners SBM remain open to all potential locations across Japan, so long as the project offers good returns for our shareholders. We are fully committed to development in Japan, wherever the Japanese government decides to permit Integrated Resorts.

We have spent the past few years meeting with and building relationships with many people in the community and government, and visiting potential sites all over the country.

Irrespective of the city, Japan has a once in a lifetime opportunity to create a new industry that can contribute a great deal to the economy and the communities in which IR’s are located.

IR’s will create thousands of jobs for both the young and the old, provide business for local suppliers and enterprises and help to support local community programs.  

CB: How important are scheme’s such as your recent launched IR management mentorship in ensuring that Japan is fully prepared to achieve excellency in its IR scene?

GEG: The IR industry is expanding rapidly across Asia and new markets like Japan will add to the competition for inbound tourists. We believe that sharing knowledge about what motivates our customers to visit an IR from across Asia (including Greater China, Japan and East Asia in particular), and what they expect from a service and experience standpoint is critical to the long-term sustainability of our business and our industry.

The IR industry is new to Japan and as such considerable training will be required across a wide number of jobs and skill sets. Jobs in an IR are diverse. From entry-level hospitality roles to management and technical positions At GEG we offer approximately 800 different career paths for our team members, so this programme will give participants a flavor of the many career opportunities that IR will bring.  

IR’s also attract many international guests – so it will be important for future employees to have international exposure and experience. This programme will assist with that.

It also helps us to remain relevant both in Macau and looking ahead to future opportunities in Japan.  

Lage scale IR’s like Galaxy Macau employ many thousands of staff, so programmes such as these will give us an opportunity to build a network of potential future employees from Japan.  

CB: It has been suggested that Japan’s IR casino bill creates monopolies, what do you say to this?

GEG: The passing of the Bill is just the first step to full implementation with detailed regulations that will govern the industry still yet to be defined.

GEG will fully compliant with the rules and regulations of the Japan government in developing the best Integrated Resort for Japan.