OSAKA -- Melco Resorts & Entertainment will consider investing more than $10 billion if it is allowed to open a casino complex in a large Japanese city under legislation now being considered, Chairman and CEO Lawrence Ho said.
"We are very happy about the movement. A lot of has made,"Ho said in an interview.
The ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner Komeito have recently agreed on key points in legislation permitting casino gambling in Japan. The bill will be submitted to the Diet as early as this month and, if made into law, would pave the way for the creation of "integrated resorts" including casinos, hotels and other facilities.
Hong Kong-based Melco operates integrated resorts in Macau and the Philippines. Melco spent $10 billion for its Macau operation.
"If we are lucky enough to be selected for one of the major cities, we will be spending more than $10 billion," Ho said.
Reflecting strong public concerns about such issues as the potential for people to become addicted to gambling, the bill imposes various kinds of restrictions. But it is understandable for Japan to adopt the most stringent regulations in the world, Ho said. Melco will be able to meet government regulations on gambling addiction by employing its "MelGuard" security system, which incorporates such biometric technologies as fingerprint scans, according to Ho.
"We are a very young and open company. We always introduce the latest technology," he said.
Ho added that the prospects are good for Melco's operations in Japan. The affluent pay deep respect to the history and cultures of the places they visit, and Japan needs such customers, Ho said. Melco intends to use its customer database to lure wealthy clients in China and other parts of Asia to Japan.
Casino entrance fees would be set at 6,000 yen ($56) for people living in Japan but entry would be free for visitors from abroad, according to the agreement between the ruling parties.
Furthermore, casinos would not be allowed to occupy more than 3% of the total floor space of integrated resorts. But this restriction is not an issue for Melco, Ho said, explaining that the figure is about 5% in Macau.