Crown Tokyo. It has a nice, if slightly imperialist, ring to it. It would be the icing on the cake for James Packer’s increasingly successful strategy of investing in Asian casinos, or as they are more euphemistically called these days, “integrated resorts”.
The prize in Japan, at least at face value, is mouth-watering: a foundation position in what is expected to be the world’s second- or third-largest casino market. Gambling revenues in Tokyo alone are forecast at about $10 billion, and there’s talk about at least one other casino in Osaka and up to six licences. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has emphatically signalled that he finally wants to legalise gambling in a country that already has the world’s most lucrative horse-racing industry (worth more than A$33 billion a year) and a truly massive grey market in the unique slot/pinball machine hybrid known as pachinko.