The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan


May 2014
Creating Chances
Integrated resorts could increase visitors to Japan and bring business opportunities
By Megan Waters

Despite its huge GDP, large population, and tremendous tourism resources, Japan has relatively few inbound visitors and is a small player in the convention industry.

Seth Sulkin, chair of the newly formed Integrated Resorts Task Force, believes the creation of integrated resorts (large-scale, mixed-use developments including casinos and hotels, as well as shopping, convention, and entertainment facilities) will drive inbound tourism and business visitors, and create opportunities for companies in a variety of sectors.

“Most industrialized countries have allowed casinos and integrated resorts for many years. Japan can catch up quickly because of the large domestic market and the potential to rapidly increase inbound visitors,” said Sulkin.

Established in January, the task force was created to prepare for the passage of legislation that will allow integrated resorts to be built here, and will probably exist for one to three years until the operator selection process is complete.

“The first stage of legislation is expected to be adopted in May. Once the legislation passes, the pace of preparation for competitive bids is likely to accelerate,” he explained.

Through the task force, Sulkin aims to provide members with information on the legislative process, networking between members and non-members, and advocacy to ensure the legislation is drafted to maximize benefits for Japan and allow business opportunities for members.

By participating in the task force, members will have the opportunity to help draft a viewpoint and, later on, a white paper.

Further, the ACCJ will offer the expertise of its members on global best practices to the Japanese government as it drafts detailed implementing legislation.

“Member companies from an extremely wide variety of industries—gaming, real estate, finance, design, construction, tax, education, IT, marketing, distribution, hotel, restaurant, entertainment, and sports—will see business opportunities from the creation of integrated resorts,” explained Sulkin.

Through the task force, Sulkin hopes to ensure the pending legislation, scheduled to pass in spring 2015, will be fair and transparent, and will allow domestic and foreign-capital companies to fully participate with best practices.

Although only recently formed, the group has already held a number of successful meetings. These include a kick-off gathering in February with an address by Takeshi Iwaya, secretary general of the Diet member group in charge of integrated resorts. In March, the group met with Masayuki Inoue, director general of the Economic Strategy Bureau of Osaka City—cited by Sulkin as the most successful talk thus far.

“[The meeting] had a great speaker, was co-hosted by Knowledge Capital, a non-profit business organization in Osaka, and included many Tokyo-based ACCJ members,” he said.

“It was a tremendous networking opportunity and provided timely information on Osaka’s integrated resort plans.”

Looking forward, a meeting with Neil Bluhm, chairman of Rush Street Gaming, a regional gaming company with a “tremendous real-estate development background” will be held in May, as well as planning events for the viewpoint and white paper.



Megan Waters