Hokkaido IR showcase brings together operators, local community

The inaugural Hokkaido IR Showcase came to a close last Thursday, with seven IR operators and numerous other Japanese companies and associations exhibiting at the first public IR event to be held in the prefecture.

The event kicked off with a tape-cutting ceremony by Tomakomai mayor Hirofumi Iwakura and Rusutsu mayor Tsunehachi Baya, joined by sponsors and members of the government.  

Hard Rock had the flashiest of exhibits featuring a building model of their “master plan” and a multitude of music and sports memorabilia. Yoshikazu Nonomura, CEO of the Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo Professional Soccer Club was also on hand to receive a donation of US$100,000 from Hard Rock Chairman Jim Allen for recovery efforts related to earthquake damages last September.

Caesars Entertainment continued their trend of unique exhibits and strong emphasis on its music events as the main entertainment factor. The US operator stayed consistent to its previous messages asserting their willingness to invest as much as Japan will need. In a touch unique to local municipalities such as Hokkaido, a point was made by President of International Development, Steven Tight, that Caesars would be proactive in the preservation of the local environment.

Melco Resorts and Entertainment’s message in Hokkaido focused not only on Chairman Lawrence Ho’s emphasis on luxury and entertainment, but also on their experience with small-scale and large-scale partnerships. Melco Japan’s Development Director Shumpei Kumagai’s presentation also focused on hiring initiatives and employee satisfaction, explaining that “according to the Macanese government’s evaluation, Melco Resorts was named the number one employer. ”

SJM Holdings Assistant COO Arnaldo Ho’s presentation centered on the vast network of Chinese tourists and the F&B sector as the keys to the Macau operator’s strengths. Ho mentioned that 2 of the 3 restaurants in Macau that have earned 3 Michelin stars are in SJM resorts, and that Hokkaido’s food resources are a great asset to an IR in the region.

Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment showcased their brand Inspire, the South Korean IR set to open early 2022 in Incheon. SVP Corporate Finance Christopher Jones states that “when completed, it will be the largest IR in northern Asia by a significant margin.” The tribal operator sees its database from Inspire as a priceless asset when marketing to foreign tourists, in line with the Japanese government’s wish to boost tourist numbers with a Japan IR.

Rush Street Gaming put their experience in real estate and large-scale development projects to the forefront. CFO Tim Drehkoff officially kicked off the “My Tomakomai” platform, a digital platform that allows anyone to give their opinions and ideas regarding an IR in Tomakomai city.

From the Japanese side, TOMOWEL, a corporate brand of Kyodo Printing Group, showed off their smartphone payment application. Amusement machine manufacturer Heiwa showed off their virtual golf offering giving visitors a chance to show off their golf skills in their booth. NEC had a running demonstration of their facial recognition technology with an aim to string together the technology in various stages of IR visitation, from the airport to transportation to the IR property.