Posted on: February 1, 2021, 08:41h. 

Last updated on: February 1, 2021, 10:28h.

Angling to become home to one of Japan’s first three integrated resorts, Yokohama recently launched its request for proposal (RFP) process. It looks like Wynn Resorts isn’t participating.

Wynn Yokohama
Yokohama, Japan. It appears as though Wynn Resorts won’t bid for a gaming license there. (Image: Pinterest)

Japan’s second-largest city launched its RFP timeline last month, and operators can begin submitting proposals on Feb. 5, with a deadline of May 17. Asahi Shimbun reports Wynn isn’t in the fold. The Encore operator is opting to focus its efforts on steadying its Macau and US businesses in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Wynn not taking part in the initial Yokohama RFP doesn’t mean the company is abandoning Japan ambitions. But it could imply the gaming firm is unlikely to be among the first three to procure a license in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Nagasaki, Osaka, Yokohama, and Wakayama are the cities confirming interest in being homes to a gaming venue, with Tokyo still mulling entry into the fray. The Osaka effort is down to just one group — a partnership between MGM Resorts and local firm Orix. Meanwhile, Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment (MGE) is working with Oshidori International Development GK on a Nagasaki bid.

That city and Wakayama are likely too small for Wynn’s tastes.

Wynn Japan Outlook Rapidly Evolved

Wynn, which runs two Macau integrated resorts, was initially bullish on Japan, and it appeared as though the operator would focus its efforts on Osaka, the country’s third-largest city.

In October 2019, the company pulled out of the competition to bring a gaming venue to that metropolitan area, declaring its intention to hone in on Yokohama. Two months later, CEO Matt Maddox confirmed as much, announcing the opening of an office in Japan’s second-largest city.

That office didn’t last long, with Wynn shuttering it last August, owing to delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. At that time, the gaming company reiterated its long-term interest in Japan, while saying it plans to stay abreast of developments in the country.

In 2018, Japanese lawmakers approved the idea of three integrated resorts in the country. Prior to the global health crisis, the process was bogged down by delays and bureaucratic snafus, prompting some operators to drop out of the bidding. While analysts view Japan as the next great gaming market in the Asia-Pacific region after Macau, consensus today is that it will be 2026 or 2027 before casinos there are operational. It’s a time line viewed as unappealing by many operators.

What’s Next for Yokohama

Even with Wynn apparently out of the Yokohama fray, the city isn’t short of credible contenders interested in developing an integrated resort there.

Galaxy Entertainment, Genting Singapore, and Melco Resorts & Entertainment remain among the parties pursuing a Yokohama license. Each of those operators have deep experience developing Asia-Pacific gaming venues, a trait favored by Japanese policymakers.

There is also speculation that with changes at the helm of Las Vegas Sands following the death of Sheldon Adelson, that that company could reconsider its Japan plans. Citing procedural issues, Adelson pulled his firm from the competition last May.

To date, the operator hasn’t confirmed an intent to reenter the Japan bidding process. But it is signaling it will consider expansion opportunities in Asia.


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