500.com ties up with Hokkaido Rusutsu IR bid

Japanese tourism company Kamori Kanko has added considerably more financial muscle to its bid to bring an IR to Hokkaido with the announcement of a US$1.5 billion investment agreement with Chinese lottery service provider 500.com.

Other members of the consortium are Sequoia Capital China, Vision Knight Capital, and SIG Asia Investments.

This past weekend 500.com CEO Zhengming Pan led a delegation of the potential investors from China on a tour of Rusutsu village as well as nearby attractions in Hokkaido. Pan stated at a press conference, “Although I did look at Tokyo, Osaka, and other locations in Hokkaido, Rusutsu village is the place for a new resort making use of the natural environment. I want to create a safe and secure facility.”

Last November, Kamori Kanko made a media splash by announcing a US$200 million partnership with developer Niseko Alpine Developments (Nisade) to build a luxury hotel and spa facilities. Nisade Chairman Jonathan Martin commented at that time, “The plan includes a strong bid platform for one of the upcoming Integrated Resort licenses for Japan—possibly one of the first casinos in the country.”

Kamori Kanko already owns Rusutsu village’s ski resort, golf courses, and theme park.

For its part, 500.com first tipped its interest in the Japanese IR market last August when CEO Zhengming Pan visited Okinawa—on the exact opposite side of the country—and spoke about the possibility of a US$2.5 billion investment. The prefectural government of Okinawa, however, currently opposes the establishment of an IR.

Within Hokkaido itself, there are three other locations that are mulling bids for IR licenses—Tomakomai city, Kitahiroshima city, and Kushiro city.