Hard Rock International is known for its popular music themed hotels, restaurants and casinos across the world. The privately held enterprise with $4.5 billion in revenues makes more than fifty percent of its money from its gambling business has plans to expand its presence into the Asian market. The company is currently expanding its operations in China by developing new hotels and restaurants.
Hamish Dodds, the chief executive officer of Hard Rock International has also expressed interest in making a major investment into Japan’s casino industry should legislators decide to legalize gambling in the country. As of now, most gambling is forbidden in Japan but there has been a renewed push this year to get a new bill approved as analysts believe that the majority of key legislators from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) are in favor of the legalizing the casino industry.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is also in favor of passing a new bill as the casino industry is expected to boost Japan’s economy, create thousands of jobs and boost tourism numbers in the country. Gaming analysts believe that if Japan removes the ban on gambling, two integrated casino resorts in Tokyo and Osaka could be licensed. Hard Rock International is open to developing one of these IRs by themselves or partnering with a local company and going ahead with a joint-venture.
Should the gambling law be amended, Hard Rock will face stiff competition as a number of global casino operators including MGM Resorts and the Las Vegas Sands Corp have already expressed interest of investing billions into Japan in order to develop new casino resorts. Senior executives from MGM, Wynn Resorts and Las Vegas Sands attended the Japan Academy Of Integrated Resort And Gaming Studies conference which was held last week and spent time with Japanese legislators to give them first hand information about the benefits of developing IRs in the country and educate them on how any possible negative impact could be reduced.
Gaming analysts remain positive based on comments made by LDP general council chairman Hosoda that the Integrated Resorts Promotion Bill will be reviewed before November 30 which is the last date for the current legislative assembly session.
Bloomberg reports that Dodds said “The feeling we get is that this is more likely to happen now. There’s more noise, there’s greater discussions in the commercial sector about how and when this will be realized. We really hope that we can collaborate with Japanese partners and institutions.”
Hard Rock believes the gaming market in Japan could be more than $10 billion but Aaron Fischer analyst at CLSA Ltd expects that number to be a lot higher. Fischer stated that the Japan’s gambling industry could very well outgrow Macau’s casino industry which generated $30 billion in 2015. The CLSA analyst estimates that Japan’s casino industry could generate as much as $40 billion going forward.