MGM Resorts bets on Japan

Las Vegas-based casino operator MGM Resorts International is willing to spend up to $10 billion for a Japanese casino via a REIT, said chief executive James Murren on Monday.

While casinos are currently banned in Japan, recent political shifts have resparked the possibility of their legalization.

In an interview with Reuters, MGM’s Murren said the company would spend between JPY 500 billion and JPY 1 trillion yen ($4.8 billion-$9.5 billion) on an “integrated resort” in Tokyo, Yokohama or Osaka.

“We think there would be a tremendous amount of demand, and ultimately a public listing of these types of Japanese resorts would be very appealing,” said Murren in an interview with Reuters.

In 2014, Las Vegas Sands chairman and chief executive Sheldon Adelson said the company is prepared to invest up to $10 billion in Japan if the country legalizes casinos.

In a regional area, MGM could spend between JPY 100 billion to JPY 300 billion on a resort, Murren added, possibly Hokkaido in northern Japan or the southernmost main island of Kyushu.

Murren said he envisaged a REIT where an MGM-controlled operating company would pay rent to a property company owned by private investors and domestic and foreign companies.

A resort in Tokyo, Osaka or Yokohama could be built by 2022-23, he said.