Groupe Barriere Pledges $2.5 Billion toward a Japanese Resort

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019 | Written by April Bergman
Groupe Barriere Pledges $2.5 Billion toward a Japanese Resort

Groupe Barriere will spend as much as $2.5 billion on a Japanese integrated resort. The French casino company marked the Osaka and Wakayama prefectures as its target for hosting an integrated resort.

Speaking at the Conrad Hotel in Tokyo, Jonathan Strock of Groupe Barriere said his company plans to buy a minority stake in a casino project. Joining with another casino developer would allow the company to consolidate its Asian footprint and diversify its portfolio.

Securing a Japanese integrated resort is a more expensive undertaking than most casino projects. Partnering with Groupe Barriere would help top operators offset some of the costs, while strengthening their development plan in a number of ways.

MGM Resorts, Las Vegas Sands, and Melco Entertainment all expressed interest in an Osaka casino license. Experts expect the bidding for the Osaka integrated resort to be astronomical. All three operators once boasted they might invest as much as $10 billion in a Japanese casino.

Groupe Barriere’s Customer Base

A major advantage of partnering with Groupe Barriere would be European and North African marketing. If an American or Chinese casino company that doesn’t have a footprint in Europe wants access to a huge database of European customers, bringing in the French company as a junior partner would be a huge boon.

Groupe Barriere owns 18 non-gaming hotels and 37 casino resorts. Most of its properties are in metropolitan France, but the company owns resorts in Switzerland, Egypt, and Morocco (Marrakech).

Japanese IR Expo

Jonathan Strock recently attending the Japanese IR Expo, a two-day conference where executives and local leaders discussed Japanese casino developments. In all, six different international casino companies attended the event.

The list of participants included the “Big Four” Las Vegas casino companies: MGM Resorts Japan LLC, Caesars Entertainment Japan LLC, Las Vegas Sands Corp. and Wynn Resorts Ltd.

Melco Resorts & Entertainment Ltd., a Chinese operator with casinos in Macau, the Philippines, and Cyprus, also attended.

How Many Tourists Will Visit Japanese Casinos?

Groupe Barriere was the sixth company in attendence. The IR expo was held in Osaka, which is near to two of the three prefectures which will receive integrated casinos. Osaka is the country’s second largest city, while Wakayama is a nearby city which also opens onto Osaka Bay. Both sit in the Kansai region.

Osaka would be the most lucrative casino of the three possibilities. City and prefecture leaders say they want a minimum $8 billion bid, and they predict at least 24 million visitors will visit the casino each year. Wakayama leaders predict 4 million a year will visit their casino.

Nagasaki Casino Plan

Nagasaki Prefecture in the Sasebo region was the third prefecture to apply for an integrated resort. Nagasaki’s officials plan a casino resort near the Dutch-style theme park Huis Ten Bosch.

Officials in Nagasaki predict 7.4 million visitors per year to their casino complex.

Possible Tomakomai Casino?

The city of Tomakomai in Hokkaido also expressed interest in a Japanese casino. Prefecture officials have not applied for a casino license, though city officials want a casino.

Under the Tomakomai city officials’ plan, developers would build a resort near New Chitose Airport. City leaders predict they would draw 8 million visitors a year to their integrated resort, which surpasses Nagasaki by a bit.