In November, Hokkaido Governor Naomichi Suzuki announced that his region was departing the Japanese integrated resort race, leaving some operators in panic. Gaming operators who were targeting to establish an integrated resort in the region included Hard Rock International, Mohegan Gaming Entertainment (MGE) and Rush Street Japan. Governor Suzuki cited environmental concern noting that officials would take too long to arrange for the protection of wildlife.
Hard Rock was not happy about the move. Japan President Ado Machida told the Inside Asian Gaming that the Governor’s decision felt like it was a waste of time, but insisted that the operator was not giving up on Hokkaido. Hard Rock International is seeking to expand its operations worldwide. The Seminole tribe gaming operator is participating in Greece and Australia integrated resort race; the company also has two gaming properties outside the US, one in Canada and another in the Dominican Republic.
According to Machida, Hard Rock seems to prefer staying in Hokkaido, MGE, on the other hand, announced last week it is considering other options. However, Rush Street Japan is yet to comment about its Hokkaido plan. Although Hokkaido has left the integrated resort race, that decision does not indicate the region has permanently disregarded the establishment of an integrated resort. The first round of integrated resort licensing awarding will be awarded to three regions; so far, Tokyo, Yokohama and Osaka seem to be the leading contenders.
According to Casino.org, Hard Rock plans to spend $5 billion in Hokkaido integrated resort, which is about ten times the amount it spent on It Boardwalk Atlantic City Casino. Unlike Yokohama, Hokkaido residents are welcoming an integrated resort in their region, meaning that the region can still revive its plans if the first phase proves to be successful.