Casinos Austria emerges as Japan IR contender

Casinos Austria International (CAI) unexpectedly emerged as the 17th international IR operator—and the second Europe-based firm—to clearly enter the contest for one of the three IR licenses to be available in Japan.
In a press conference held at the Austrian Embassy in Tokyo on November 5, CAI not only made a declaration of interest, but revealed that they had already established their Japan branch and had hired their Japan president, Akio Hayashi.
The opening of their campaign was well-prepared, with messages of support from such figures as Austrian Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz and Minister of the Economy Margarete Schramböck.
CAI enters the field as the only state-owned IR operator searching for a license in Japan, and many of the comments at the press conference made reference to the fact that it was the 150th anniversary of Japan-Austria relations.
CAI Japan President Hayashi also suggested that he has some specific ideas about the project, noting “With Japan’s safe and secure medical treatment, I think we can create the world’s first IR facility that includes a medical mall.”
CAI was established in 1976 as the international arm of its parent company, Casinos Austria AG, whose own history traces back to 1934. They claim that since their founding CAI has operated in 35 countries and opened 215 casinos and entertainment facilities.
Like their sole European rival in the Japan IR hunt, Groupe Barrière, they emphasize that they are used to dealing with some of the strictest casino regulatory regimes in the world. Monaco casino operator Societe des Bains de Mer is also throwing its hat in the ring, though in partnership with Macau’s Galaxy Entertainment Group.