Ho seeks expansion in Japan

Lawrence Ho would invest $5 billion in Japan if the company of which he is co-chairman, Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd., were granted a license to operate there.  In a recent interview in Tokyo, Ho confirmed that he was looking outside Macau, where land and labour are in short supply, for future growth opportunities.  

Macau remains the sole source of Melco Crown’s revenue, but the joing venture is investing in the Philippines and Ho himself in Russia in a bid to expand his empire.  While he remains bullish on Macau’s future, predicting that it will still grow by 10 percent next year due to an improved economic climate, Ho sees enormous potential in Japan, suggesting that it could be worth up to $10 or $15 billion.  Ho has been lobbying various cabinet members in Japan for the legalization of casinos and has said that he would be willing to work with a local partner should he get the opportunity to build an integrated resort in Tokyo and/or Osaka.  He is not the only one eyeing the market hungrily.  Wynn Resorts Ltd., MGM Resorts International Ltd., Las Vegas Sands Corp., and Caesars Entertainment Corp. have all made proposals to the government ahead of any potential legislation change.  An integrated resort bill is expected to be submitted as early as November which would lay the framework for any future gaming regulatory system.  A second bill would then be submitted to open auctions for the licenses which officials have said they will try to file within the next year.