Caesars Makes Late Run For Wakayama, Joins Clairvest Bid

September 30, 2021
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In a renewed Japan gambit with “no capital commitment”, Caesars Entertainment has joined the Clairvest Group consortium that leads Wakayama Prefecture’s bid for an integrated resort licence.

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In a renewed Japan gambit with “no capital commitment”, Caesars Entertainment has joined the Clairvest Group consortium that leads Wakayama Prefecture’s bid for an integrated resort (IR) licence.

Clairvest subsidiary and consortium leader Clairvest Neem Ventures (CNV) said on Wednesday that Caesars has joined the project “in full compliance with Japanese law and with no capital commitment”.

"Caesars and CNV share a common vision for Japan's national IR program,” CNV representative director Eddie Woo said in a statement.

“Not only will it serve to enhance the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic through increased international visitation, but we are confident that together we can create a resort that provides significant local economic stimulation in Wakayama Prefecture, throughout the Kansai region and the rest of Japan."

But the statement provided no details of Caesars’ financial or operational involvement in the project, with Caesars CEO Tom Reeg merely expressing pride over the partnership and what it might deliver.

"We believe our experience blends perfectly with CNV's and look forward to creating something special with them for the Kansai region,” Reeg said.

The new pairing is notable for the apparent sidelining of French casino operator Groupe Partouche, which joined the consortium in June but is not mentioned in Wednesday’s statement.

However, the statement confirms the ongoing involvement of one-time Las Vegas Sands president and COO Bill Weidner and his company AMSE Resorts Japan, which includes former Sands executives Bradley Stone and Garry Saunders.

It also affirms that Mario Ho, the youngest son of the late gaming patriarch Stanley Ho, will be involved in the project in his capacity as an “esports and entertainment entrepreneur”.

The consortium is yet to clarify the operational roles and financial exposure of the various gaming interests in the project.

Wakayama Prefecture confirmed it would proceed with the Clairvest consortium bid in early June, after leading Macau junket operator Suncity pulled out of the race.

If its application for a licence receives central government approval, Clairvest has predicted a late 2027 opening for the resort.

For Caesars, the project would mark its first foothold in the Asian casino market after storied failures to enter Macau soon after the turn of the century, and again in 2013, when it sold its Macau golf course after hope of government support for a casino-resort faded to black.

The company was much closer to opening a property on South Korea’s Yeongjong island, but exited the market in 2021 — selling its stake “for some barbecue pork”, as Reeg told analysts — amid stalled progress and the need to focus on its Eldorado Resorts merger.

Previous Caesars executives also cited the Eldorado Resorts merger when they terminated the company's initial Japanese campaign in 2019.

The surviving candidate locations for the three possible IR licences are Wakayama, Osaka (partnering with MGM Resorts International) and Nagasaki (partnering with Casinos Austria).

Final applications to the central government are due in April 2022.

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