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Rolling the Dice: Japan’s First Casino Aims to Boost Tourism

Get ready for high-stakes fun in the Land of the Rising Sun, as Japan has officially greenlit plans for its first-ever casino. The $13.5 billion resort complex, set to be built in Osaka, is anticipated to attract 20 million visitors and generate $4 billion in annual revenue.

MGM Resorts and its development partners see vast potential in the casino project. Japan’s robust population of 126 million, combined with its proximity to affluent Chinese residents who may be growing weary of Macau’s gambling scene, makes it an attractive destination.

Japan’s tourism sector has been in dire need of a pick-me-up. In 2022, the industry hit rock bottom with only 4 million tourists, a far cry from the 32 million who visited in 2019. Japan’s stringent border controls during the pandemic, which only eased in October 2022 after two-and-a-half years of isolation, contributed to this decline. The Osaka casino, slated to open in 2029, forms part of a broader initiative to revitalize the economy.

However, the casino project hasn’t been without controversy. A poll revealed that 45% of Osaka residents supported the endeavor, 38% opposed it, and 17% remained undecided. Consequently, securing approval for the development involved years of negotiations.

With Japan betting on its first casino to increase tourism and stimulate economic growth, entrepreneurs and investors should keep an eye on the nation’s emerging gaming and hospitality sectors. The project represents an opportunity to tap into a wealthy market and capitalize on the pent-up demand for leisure activities in the region.