Lawrence Ho steals the show at Japan Gaming Congress

Melco Resorts & Entertainment Chairman and CEO Lawrence Ho came ready for action on the first day of the Japan Gaming Congress, announcing that his firm would dramatically raise the global standard of IR industry, and presenting a stunning array of visual demonstrations of his “City of the Future” concept for the Osaka Yumeshima site.

Sitting down for an exclusive interview with Asia Gaming Brief immediately after his presentation, Ho explained, “Anybody who builds any Integrated Resort that is based on Las Vegas or Macau or anywhere for that matter would be a total insult to this country and the people.”

On the issue of the MGM-Orix partnership in Osaka, Ho described the combination as “a formidable competitor to us,” but he added, “There are many Japanese corporations that have had hundreds of years of history and are also very well respected within their communities.”

“Our search for a partner continues,” he continued. “Our message to potential partners is that Melco has had the most successful track record of working with partners.”

As for the Japanese locations where Melco is willing to make bids, Ho clarified that he is aiming for a major urban market, but is not entirely ruling out the regional locations: “Our primary focus will be in the Kanto and the Kansai region. But at the same time, we have participated in the request for proposal in Hokkaido. We’ve participated in the RFI in Aichi. And so there are regional cities that we are interested in as well.”

Should Melco win an IR license in a major urban market, Ho says that his firm could spend “well in excess of US$10 billion,” but obviously it would be a smaller amount if confined to a smaller regional market.

Finally, Ho emphasized that Melco understands Asian customers and would be an ideal partner to bring “the right kind” of visitor to the nation.