Rush Street founder and Chairman Neil Bluhm says the company would likely spend up to US$2 billion on its Hokkaido IR should it win a license to operate a regional casino-resort in Japan.
The US real estate giant revealed this week its intention to bid for an IR license in Japan, with its efforts to be focused exclusively in Tomakomai in Hokkaido.
Asked about Rush Street’s planned investment during an interview with Inside Asian Gaming, Bluhm said the company was “estimating somewhere in the range of US$1.5 billion to US$2 billion.
“We think there would be around 2,000 hotel rooms and 15,000 employees given the large number of employees needed for the hotel and all the other amenities that we would have,” he added.
“As you know, Japan’s IR rules provide that the casino can only represent 3% of the total space so our real estate expertise, our real estate development is very critical for what we are thinking in that respect because we’re going to have to build a lot of other real estate to qualify and that’s what we specialise in.
“We’ve built billions of dollars worth of very high end retail, hotels, convention facilities and things of that sort, plus we’ll have a lot of entertainment – restaurants, bars and so on, all of which will be vitally important. And we need to have some cultural aspects to fit into the environment.”
According to Rush Street’s Chief Financial Officer Tim Drehkoff, those cultural aspects would heavily incorporate Hokkaido’s natural beauty as well as including a rich art element.
“On the other elements that we’re playing around with, one is to try and involve as much as we can the natural beauty of that area and that site in particular, which is in the woods with rivers and rocks,” Drehkoff said. “We’re thinking bike trails, hiking trails, rock climbing excursions, bird watching – all sorts of things of that nature. We’re also trying to involve an equestrian center given the rich history the region has in horse breeding and horse racing.
“In addition to all of those cultural elements, we’re looking at an art exhibition or museum. Neil happens to be a world renowned collector of modern art and is on the board of the Art Institute of Chicago and The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. We can leverage that capacity to bring art exhibitions to the site as well.
“We’re trying to be very broad, appealing to all demographics with a definite regional, local, cultural flavor to it.”