Slowly, Slowly Catchee Monkey, MGM’s Groundbreaking Japan Venture Inches Forward

Never has the ancient African proverb “slowly, slowly, catchee monkey” been more apposite.

Doing business in Japan, to coin additional euphemisms, is “complex”, requiring exquisite manners and the patience to match.

Ask anyone who’s had the pleasure of visiting this extraordinary country and they’ll all tell you the same thing: Japan is unique, fascinating and the Japanese are beholden to no-one: they do it their way and at their own pace, often repetitive and, if it’s business, exhaustive.

Hats off then to MGM Resorts as they seek to transform Japanese gambling culture and bring the first-ever Integrated Resort–featuring gambling–to this essential island nation of 123 million-plus people, the third most powerful economy in the world.

Working in conjunction with their local partners, the Orix Corporation, MGM have now received final certification for their planned resort on the man-made island of Yumeshima, near Osaka on the main island of Honshu, roughly in the middle of the country.

Yumeshima is also the proposed site for the 2025 World Expo. It was first proposed as a location for the MGM resort–expected to open by the end of this decade–way back in 2014.

Such are the sensitivities and moral ambiguities surrounding foreign investment–and gambling–in a country that was bombed and blistered by unrelenting American air power not so long ago.

“We remain passionately committed to this project,” affirmed MGM Resorts President and CEO Bill Hornbuckle.

MGM: Bringing World-class Vegas DNA to Osaka

“This is a significant moment for our company as we officially close the certification process and begin to focus on executing our vision, in partnership with Orix, to build a world-class integrated resort in Osaka.

“Our vision is to bring MGM’s ‘wow’ DNA from Las Vegas to Osaka, and build a resort that will be a source of great pride in the community.

“We look forward to bringing Japan and Osaka best-in-class gaming, entertainment, dining and retail experiences.”

The Yumeshima resort will cost some JPY2 trillion (£11.01bn/US$13.5bn), it’s estimated.

Construction work is set to start next year.

“It’s early in the game, but for us, it’s been a 12-year journey,” elaborated Hornbuckle. “We’re looking forward to starting in earnest on the ground, hopefully, by middle-to-late next year in terms of pylons and beginning construction.

“We’re shooting for a 2030 opening.”

Responded Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida: “[The Yumeshima Resort] will not only help develop the Kansai region further after the 2025 World Exposition in Osaka and contribute to our country’s economic growth, but also become a tourist attraction that spreads Japan’s charm to the rest of the world.”

And, MGM hopes, introduces Japan to the immersive charms, thrills and excitement of Vegas-style gaming.

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