Melco Resorts Chairman and CEO Lawrence Ho says his company remains fully committed to pursuing an IR license in Japan, despite concerns over political challenges and waning interest among many of the world’s leading gaming operators.
Providing extensive comment on the Japan opportunity in Melco’s 4Q20 results announcement overnight, Ho said the company had a “continued commitment to bring the country a world-leading IR.”
However, he refrained from mentioning Yokohama, where Melco has long held its focus under a “Yokohama First” policy, by name – a curious omission and perhaps a response to the lack of clarity as to the city’s current IR direction.
While mayor Fumiko Hayashi and the city council are strong supporters of an IR bid, and the RFP process is already underway, Hayashi is yet to confirm if she will run for a third term in office in August’s mayoral elections.
Anti-IR candidates are also lining up to challenge for office with a promise to end Yokohama’s casino pursuit should they prevail.
In his comments overnight, Melco boss Ho confirmed that Japan remains very much on the company’s radar but added the company is looking to pursue the “right opportunity.”
“Our focus on the Asian premium segment, a portfolio of high-quality assets, devotion to craftsmanship, dedication to world-class entertainment offerings, market-leading social safeguard systems, established track record of successful partnerships, culture of exceptional guest service, and a continuing commitment to employee development puts Melco in a strong position to help Japan realize the vision of developing an exceptional IR with a uniquely Japanese touch,” he said.
“Due to COVID, the process in Japan has been delayed and remains complex but has renewed momentum as jurisdictions are again initiating RFP processes.
“We will continue to be patient as we evaluate the landscape to ensure that Melco pursues the right opportunity that takes advantage of Melco’s core strengths to drive strong value creation.”