PHOTO: New York-New York Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. (Photo courtesy of MGM Resorts)
As the prospect of Japanese lawmakers legalizing casinos becomes more likely, MGM Resorts International has set its sights on the potentially lucrative market.
Reuters reports the Las Vegas-based hospitality and entertainment company could invest anywhere between $4.8 billion and $9.5 billion on an "integrated resort" that combines casinos, hotels, meeting and shopping space.
MGM Resorts CEO James Murren told Reuters that the project could come via a publicly-traded real estate investment trust.
Murren described a situation in which an MGM-controlled operating company would be responsible for expenses and investment and would pay rent to a property company that's owned by private investors and other companies, foreign or domestic.
That scenario, as Murren told Reuters, could "expand the level of involvement."
The casino resort would be planned to open in Tokyo, Yokohama or Osaka by 2022 or 2023 potentially.
Casinos are currently banned in Japan. However, recent political shifts have increased the chances of a repeal.
"We think there would be a tremendous amount of demand, and ultimately a public listing of these types of Japanese resorts would be very appealing," Murren told Reuters.
According to brokerage CLSA, a Japanese gaming market could potentially be worth as much as $40 billion a year, likely prompting competitors of MGM to get involved as well.