Just as an Asian tycoon looks set to build a casino resort in Australia, now James Packer’s new casino project looks set to be pointed in the direction of Asia – specifically in Japan, where he is now keen to get going with a new set of resort casinos which could really liven up the area where there are currently no legal casinos as yet.
The Australian mogul already owns casinos in Melbourne, Perth, and Macau, and he could be one of the first to start teaching the Japanese about casino games if the opportunity arises. “I hope Japan comes up,” he said recently. “If Japan comes on it will be the second-biggest gaming market in the world. It has 100 million people who are all mad gamblers but they are all doing it through horse racing and pachinko. Japan is looking at the Singapore story. Done wrong, gambling can be parasitic. But done right (through integrated resorts) it can be hugely addictive. With integrated resorts done well, the good outweighs the bad. Singapore is proof of that.”
Japan has long been viewed as something of a holy grail for casino investors, as it is close to China, has its own wealthy population, and has a strong reputation for other forms of gambling. Pachinko is very popular there, and the slot machine style games could very easily be replaced by the real thing for Japanese players. A bill is set to be submitted to the parliament in Japan later this year, and if it passes then Packer may well be first in line to get that license and start building.
“Japan is two to three years before it all gets serious, which is perfect for us because we will have Macau Studio City open and the Philippines open,” Packer said. “Crown Perth will be finished and Crown Sydney should be well under way, approvals pending. It is just going through the political process at the moment in Japan.” Brokerage firm CSLA estimated earlier this year that just three casinos in Japan could generate around $10 billion per year.