Connecticut tribes joining race for Japanese casino licenses

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The federally-recognized Mohegan Tribe and its Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation counterpart are reportedly set to join the race for the right to operate one of a trio of integrated casino resorts that could open in Japan as soon as 2021.

According to a Tuesday report from The Day newspaper, the Mohegan Tribe already operates southeastern Connecticut’s giant Mohegan Sun venue via its Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment vehicle while the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation is responsible for the nearby Foxwoods Resort Casino.

The newspaper reported that Felix Rappaport (pictured), President and Chief Executive officer for Foxwoods Resort Casino, attended last week’s two-day Japan Gaming Congress in Tokyo where the Chief Executive Officer for Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment, Mario Kontomerkos, made a bid for one of the coming Japanese casino licenses.

Although most casino gambling is currently illegal in Japan, the coalition government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe passed the Integrated Resort Promotion Act in December of 2016 and now hopes to have its casino-realizing Integrated Resort Implementation Bill successor ratified by the 465-seat House of Representatives in advance of a June 20 deadline.

Rappaport reportedly told The Day that his recent visit to Tokyo represented the third time he has travelled to Japan in the past two years. He also purportedly revealed that Rodney Butler, Chairman for the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, has previously been to the island nation as have other officials from the Connecticut tribe.

“Probably every major gaming operation in the world including us and Mohegan Sun was [at the Japan Gaming Congress],” Rappaport reportedly told the newspaper. “We are looking at Japan no differently than we would look at any other wonderful opportunity, domestic or international.”

The Day reported that the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation has long been seeking to geographically diversify its gambling portfolio and revealed plans in 2016 to partner in a $265 million casino for Biloxi, Mississippi. The tribe has furthermore joined with Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment to establish the MMCT Venture vehicle in hopes of opening the $300 million Mohegan Sun Foxwoods East Windsor in the north of its home state.

Rappaport reportedly told the newspaper that he believes it will cost around $3 billion to bring a new integrated casino resort to Japan with the first guests arriving sometime in 2022 or 2023. However, he purportedly proclaimed that his firm will not be looking to ‘duplicate’ Foxwoods Resort Casino but is currently investigating how to ‘have everything’ Japanese officials want ‘when they talk about an integrated resort’.

“We believe the best path to success for any company would be to have Japanese partners, in particular,” Rappaport reportedly told The Day.

For its part, Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment additionally reportedly runs the Mohegan Sun Pocono property near Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, while managing other gambling facilities in Louisiana, Washington and New Jersey. The operator is moreover hoping to open its $1.6 billion Project Inspire integrated casino resort in South Korea in around three years’ time and its Corporate Communications Director, Jennifer Ballester, purportedly told the newspaper that there are numerous similarities between the ‘Japanese regional resort concept’ and her firm’s Mohegan Sun property. The Day subsequently explained that these include the ability to attract visitors ‘from distant metro areas’ to a standalone resort located in an area ‘with modest populations’.

“As a development partner we see much synergy between our development in [South] Korea, Project Inspire, and our future resort in Japan,” Ballester reportedly told the newspaper.

Connecticut tribes joining race for Japanese casino licenses was last modified: May 17th, 2018 by Adam Morgan