Bloomberry Resorts Corp Chairman and CEO Enrique Razon Jr says the lack of clarity over locations and regulations, and escalating IR cost estimates, should have operators around the world thinking twice about their plans to develop an integrated resort in Japan.
But he has re-iterated Bloomberry’s commitment to Japan, admitting the company is monitoring multiple regional locations despite being closely linked with Wakayama.
Razon’s comments form part of an in-depth, one-on-one interview in the March edition of Inside Asian Gaming, out later this week.
Discussing the issue of Japan’s ongoing IR development process and Bloomberry’s own ambitions there, Razon admitted the absence of firm details around everything from operator requirements to gaming regulations were making it difficult for many operator candidates.
“It’s becoming a bit of a joke,” he said. “The process is pretty much muddled still and nobody really knows what’s going on.
“I know in Japan pachinko is very popular, but do they actually play baccarat? We don’t see much of that here, even though there’s a lot of Japanese in the Philippines. You don’t see that much anywhere actually, so there are still question marks. Is it going to be an integrated resort with a massive floor of pachinko? Is that how it is going to end up? There are still a lot of questions to be answered.
“It’s also hard because a prefecture will be going for an IR and then they suddenly back off. Some of them are very serious, but the numbers are quite mind boggling.”
Bloomberry, which operates Manila’s Solaire Resort & Casino, has until now remained relatively quiet on its Japan IR plans outside of expressing some interest in Wakayama. Asked if Wakayama would be the company’s sole focus, Razon said, “We would definitely consider other locations, it’s just that Wakayama seems determined to develop an IR whereas some of the others are kind of iffy.
“Tokyo doesn’t want one, Yokohama maybe, maybe not. Chiba said they wanted one, and now they say they don’t want one.
“So what is this process anyway? Where’s the clarity? It’s a US$10 billion investment (in metropolitan locations like Yokohama). If I had US$10 billion sitting on me, I don’t know if I would build that casino.”
Despite his concerns, Razon said Japan remains a market that is “very attractive, so it has to be a high priority.” Bloomberry, he added, is eyeing an investment of between US$3 billion to US$4 billion.
“We’re still waiting for the rules to come out, but of course we’re highly interested,” he said.
Razon called on the Japanese government to “come up with a very clear process on how they are going to shortlist candidates and locations.
“Are we going to end up with 20 IRs in Japan or just four or five? What can the market absorb? These are unknowns. It could be the greatest thing in the world, right? Nobody knows.”