The boss for French gambling and hotels giant, Groupe Lucien Barriere, has reportedly declared that his firm would be ‘comfortable’ holding a minority stake in any new Japanese integrated casino resort so long as it could run the facility’s gaming operations.
According to a report, Jonathan Strock (pictured) is President for the Paris-headquartered firm and made this revelation as part of an exclusive interview conducted during the recent Japan Gaming Congress (JgC). The executive was in attendance after earlier announcing that his company is set to join the race to bag one of the three integrated casino resort licenses being put up for grabs in Japan.
Strock detailed that his firm is hoping to win the right to operate a smaller integrated casino resort in Wakayama Prefecture and has estimated that such a regional facility would cost around $2.5 billion to build. He also stated that the company’s designs call for the construction of a ‘naturally-Japanese resort’ in theme that is to be designed to appeal to mass-market players from overseas.
Groupe Lucien Barriere already runs casinos in Egypt, Switzerland and France and Strock reportedly proclaimed that his company is not interested in competing with giant American counterparts such as MGM Resorts International or Las Vegas Sands Corporation for the right to bring an integrated casino resort to Japan. Instead, he declared that Wakayama Prefecture represented a ‘realistic’ option that appeals due to its ‘easy access’ to Kansai International Airport and proximity to beautiful countryside and multiple cultural sites.
In the report from GGRAsia, Strock said:
“If we’re looking at the metropolitan areas, we’re coming face-to-face with Las Vegas Sands Corporation, MGM Resorts International and Melco Resorts and Entertainment Limited, the very large investments. Perhaps we don’t have so much of a chance. The investment [in regional destinations] is more suited to a company of our size. We’re more comfortable with those rather than getting into a big fight with the American companies.”
Strock further added that his firm anticipates that it would take approximately three years to build such a regional integrated casino resort with the 98.8-acre Marina City artificial island likely to be the preferred location. He consequently purportedly stated that he expects Wakayama Prefecture to launch its request-for-concept (RFC) process ‘towards the end of this year’ before an eventual winner is picked nearer to the middle of 2021.
According to Strock…
“It will take probably six months for the prefecture to decide on the [partnering] operator and then it will probably take another year for Tokyo to decide among the different offers. Construction can take around three years. The site itself is ready to go. There is no need to have any preparation.”
Groupe Lucien Barriere is currently seeking Japanese partners to assist it in developing its hoped-for Wakayama Prefecture integrated casino resort and Strock reportedly said that such allies could ‘bring something else’ to the project such as expertise in running its conference and leisure facilities.
“We’re comfortable with the minority [position] because I think in a Japanese resort the economic benefits should stay mainly in Japan, which will imply most of the equity shareholding should belong to Japanese companies or Japanese individuals. But inside a consortium, we would like to be the operator of the facilities. We not only want to have financial partners, we also want to have partners that can actually bring something else.”