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Hard Rock details plans for integrated Japanese resort

| By iGB Editorial Team
Hard Rock International has set out plans to open an integrated entertainment complex on the Japanese island of Hokkaido as part of its bid to secure a casino gambling licence in the country.  

Hard Rock International has unveiled plans to build an integrated entertainment resort on the Japanese island of Hokkaido as it bids to secure of three casino gambling licences in the country.

The proposal includes Hard Rock’s signature guitar-shaped hotel (pictured), a Four Seasons Resort hotel, a Hard Rock Live venue, several theatres and a direct monorail link to nearby Chitose International Airport.

The initial plans do not specifically refer to a casino being built at the site, with only 3% of the total resort size permitted to host gambling, as dictated by a law passed in July 2018. 

This law, passed by the Japanese parliament, allows up to three casinos to open in the country as part of integrated resort complexes. The country is yet to confirm when it will start to award the licences, with a number of major international operators preparing to bids for one of the three certificates.

Jim Allen, chairman and CEO of Hard Rock International, said: “We are extremely excited about the prospect of introducing our Hard Rock family to the people of Hokkaido, Japan with this world-class entertainment resort.

“It will not only bring economic benefits to the local community, but also act as a gateway to learn more about the wonderful heritage of Japan and all that it has to offer.”

Hard Rock set out its plans at last week’s Hokkaido IR Showcase, where a host of other leading gambling brands also put forward their own proposals to open a resort on Japan's northernmost island. Caesars Entertainment, Melco Resorts and Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment were among the companies in attendance.

The locations of the three casino sites is yet to be finalised. Hokkaido is just one up for consideration, as are Okinawa, Osaka, Yokohama, Wakayama, Sasebo and the capital of Tokyo.

Two of the notable absentees at last week’s event were MGM Resorts and Las Vegas Sands, both of which have previously declared an interest in opening a casino in Japan. Sands is said to favour a site in Osaka and MGM in Yokohama, while Caesars, which was in attendance, in September revealed plans to open a resort in Okinawa. 

Under the new casino laws, operators that secure a licence will pay a 30% tax on gross gaming revenue to central and local governments.

The initial three licences will be valid for 10 years and subject to renewal every five years after launch. The government said it will consider adding more resorts seven years after approving the first batch of three.

Other provisions set out under the law include blocking residents from visiting a casino more than 10 times per week. Foreigners can visit as many times as they like for free, but locals will face a charge of ¥6,000 (£31/€48/$56) for each visit.

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