MGM Resorts still Osakas sole IR candidate after open call fails to attract new bidders

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Osaka confirmed on Tuesday 6 April that it had received no new responses from IR operator candidates after declaring last month that it would open the door for additional submissions.

With the additional open call for candidates having expired at midday, participation in Osakas RFP remains a one-horse race with only US casino giant MGM Resorts and its partner ORIX taking part.

As previously reported by Inside Asian Gaming, the recent call for new candidates formed part of revisions that were made to the city and prefectures IR Implementation Policy draft in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The draft also included a provisional for Osakas chosen operator to open its IR in stages, starting before the end of the current decade.

Quizzed by Inside Asian Gaming at the time on the reasons for allowing new operator submissions, the Osaka IR Promotion Council said, Regarding the additional open call for participants, we originally started the application before the [revised] Basic Policy of the central government came out. We started the additional application based on the law and to maintain fairness to entities who see the Basic Policy of [the] central government and the revised implementation policy (draft) and may consider applying.

The MGM/ORIX consortium has long run with an Osaka Only policy and was the only company to have registered for the original operator recruitment process, which closed in February 2020. It had been thought unlikely that any new candidates would raise their hand this time aroundand the open call did indeed receive a cold reception.

Osaka will now request submission of proposal documents in July and the operator will be selected in September.

The national government is scheduled to accept applications from local governments hoping to win an IR license between October 2021 and April 2022 and if approved by the government, construction is likely to begin sometime in 2023.

An official from the Osaka IR Promotion Office said, We have built a good relationship [with MGM and ORIX]. We would like to continue the conversations and form a solid development plan.