MCE eyes Osaka license, woos governor

    Melco Crown Entertainment is eyeing a casino license in the Japanese city of Osaka and officials have met with governor Ichiro Matsui to discuss the merits of the city, the Sydney Morning Herald said.
    The advantages include a 24-hour international airport nearby and cheaper land than other major cities in the country.
    Todd Nisbet, the executive vice-president, strategy and design of Crown Resorts, told the newspaper that Crown had been meeting local government representatives and businesses to discuss ”the tourism and economic benefits that integrated resorts can bring to the country”. The move into Japan would be through Crown’s Macau joint venture with Melco International, it said.
    Matsui and other Osaka officials have been actively courting investment in the city, while Tokyo governor Yoichi Masuzoe has expressed reservations.
    The ruling Liberal Democratic Party is expected to seek to push through a framework bill to legalize casinos in Japan in the autumn, with the view to have the first properties open by 2020, when Tokyo hosts the Olympic Games.
    The government is expected to grant up to three licenses initially and competition will be fierce as major global operators seek a footprint in what is expected to be the second-biggest market in Asia.
    The Japan Times reported recently that MGM Resorts International and Galaxy Entertainment are currently the frontrunners among candidates for a casino license in Osaka.