Melco says no cap on investment

Melco Crown chief Lawrence Ho said his company is willing to do whatever it takes to secure the rights to build an integrated resort in Japan, local media reports.

“This opportunity is priceless and we’ll spend whatever it takes to win,” Ho said in a briefing at the CLSA investor conference in Tokyo on Wednesday.

Ho said the amount of investment will depend on the host city, but his top choice would be the city of Osaka, where Melco has done more planning.

On Tuesday, Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson said the company would be looking to spend up to $10 billion to develop an integrated resort in the country, shadowing the amount it invested in its Marina Bay Sands property in Singapore.

Adelson said the opportunity in Japan was much bigger than that of Singapore.

“It’s the holy grail. It’s the ultimate of business opportunities. Singapore was a warm up to this,” he said.

In terms of design, Ho also took a dig at some of the building design choices in Las Vegas and Macau, saying it wouldn’t be a good fit for Japan.

“If you put up some of the tacky buildings that you have in Las Vegas or Macau here it would look out of place. Can you imagine the Venetian here?” he said in a speech.

Melco Crown later in the day issued a potential concept of its Japan integrated resort.

Geoffrey Stuart Davis, executive vice president and chief financial officer of the company, gave a sneak peek of the inspiration behind the potential concept of its integrated resorts for the locations in Umekita and Yumeshima, Osaka.

“Melco Crown Entertainment has long been known for its innovative architectural designs that thoughtfully and harmoniously reflect the culture and beauty of the city’s landscape… I am pleased to present our cutting edge destination concept. The design for Umekita was the creation of the late Dame Zaha Hadid, DBE, who embraced simplicity and sustainability. Her work would help create an iconic new landmark in Japan.”

Davis however said the company would be open-minded when it came to location, and would look for guidance from the Japanese government in regards to the development and operation of the integrated resort.

Ho also stressed the importance of working with local stakeholders throughout the process.

“It’s important we work with government authorities,” he said, quoted by Bloomberg. “Ultimately what makes an integrated resort successful is how we work with communities.” .

In the press release, Ho noted the company’s focus on social safeguards and responsible gaming.

“The operation of integrated resorts is a highly regulated industry. With integrated resorts in multiple jurisdictions, Melco Crown Entertainment has consistently demonstrated its industry leadership in respect of social safeguards and has upheld the highest standards of corporate governance and social responsibility. The Company has widely-recognized responsible gaming programs that proactively educate the public and its employees, protect against problem gambling, and guard communities against criminal elements,” he said.

With regards to ownership, Ho said Melco would ideally want to own a majority stake in the resort, but would keep an open mind on the structure should it involve local partners.