MGM Resorts CEO and President Bill Hornbuckle says the company remains intent on submitting Request for Proposal documents to the Osaka government in July. And he believes the criteria for operators is now more attractive as a result of negotiations between the company and Osaka officials in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hornbuckle’s comments were made in response to questions during MGM’s 1Q21 earnings call around the progress of its planned investment in Japan. The company and local partner Orix remain the only candidate to develop an integrated resort in Osaka after the city received no new submissions upon reopening its call for candidates in March.
Hornbuckle revealed during the earnings call that the decision by Osaka to extend the submissions period had been in response to negotiations with MGM Resorts through which the company was able to “enhance” and “improve” operator requirements.
Those enhancements, which resulted in Osaka revising its IR Implementation Policy in February, included the potential for phased openings of integrated resort facilities such as MICE space with officials subsequently reopening the call for candidates to ensure “fairness” in the process.
“There is still submission deadline of July 20 this year for an RFP,” Hornbuckle said during Thursday’s earnings call. “It is our company’s intent to do that.
“Osaka had opened [its open call for new operators] up … we had been able to work with the city of Osaka on some of the criteria given [the impact of COVID] and given the requirements, and frankly we were able to enhance them and improve them to the point of them reopening it back up for about three weeks. There were no new participants so we stand as the lone entrant in that process starting in July.
“Japan in the last couple of weeks is back into lockdown so its tenuous in some respects, but we are still very focused on it and we intend to apply in July, if that happens.”
Japan’s national government will accept submissions from candidate locations and their operator partners from October 2021 to April 2022 after which time it will select up to three winning locations for IR development.