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Japan – Hokkaido’s Rusutsu Village confirms it wants a Japanese casino licence

By - 11 January 2019

Japanese tourism company Kamori Kanko, once the biggest operator of ski resorts in the US, has confirmed it wants to bring a casino to its ambitious vision for a regional integrated resort in Hokkaido’s Rusutsu Village, located in the Shiribeshi sub-prefecture in Hokkaido.

The first phase of development is valued at circa US$200m and includes luxury hotel The Vale Rusutsu and a bespoke onsen and spa facility. Additional phases including new retail and entertainment developments and further hotel facilities, have been estimated at circa US$500m.

The resort will include schools, healthcare centers, commercial and retail precincts and multi-family homes.
The already existing facilities include the Rusutsu Resort Hotel and Convention Centre, an award winning ski resort that attracts more than 1.5 million visitors per year. It already boasts an 830 room hotel, a large ski resort with a total of 42 km of trails, four unique 18-hole golf courses, and an amusement park with over 60 types of rides and attractions. It is a 90-minute drive from both New Chitose Airport and central Sapporo, with Niseko only 40 minutes away.

Kamori Kanko President Hisatake Kamori said: “An Integrated Resort at Rusutsu will allow for the development of core community-based support infrastructure. Aside from casino gaming, which is only a small component in the overall scheme, our vision includes healthcare facilities, schools, commercial and retail precincts, multi-family homes and more tourism and entertainment venues, all in an environmentally-friendly manner. It will be a true ‘integrated resort’.”

“Visitors come to Hokkaido for nature and the outdoors, skiing, local cuisine, culture and heritage,” Mr. Kanko added. “A Hokkaido integrated resort needs strong winter activities to support year-round tourism and to provide a unique experience for guests. Without the ski infrastructure, we do not believe an integrated resort can be successful during our cold winters.”

The project would add 223,000 square meters of leisure and entertainment areas, including 1,300 hotel rooms, 25,000 square meters of MICE facilities and 6,800 square meters of gaming area plus spas, restaurants, bars and lounges and retail space. The gaming floor would take up less than three per cent of the resort’s total gross floor area.

Kamori Kanko’s consultancy partner, The Innovation Group, pitches the total gaming and non-gaming revenue for the facility to be at over US$1bn annually.

Mr. Kanko added that Rusutsu Resort’s unique operation necessitated long-term planning for redevelopment. The company has already partnered with developers Niseko Alpine Developments [NISADE] of The Vale Niseko fame for the strategic development of flagship Rusutsu Resort.

“Unlike the structure of other Hokkaido resorts, we own Rusutsu in its entirety, including the resort, ski lifts, golf courses and theme park,” Mr. Kanko explained. “Subsequently, Rusutsu’s redevelopment requires a highly strategic approach and we found the perfect partner in NISADE, who have been instrumental in identifying the path to executing Rusutsu’s long-term growth plan.”

NISADE Chairman Jonathan Martin said the plans for the future of Rusutsu Resort include groundbreaking tourism developments on a regional and national level.

“The plan includes a strong bid platform for one of the upcoming Integrated Resort Licenses for Japan – possibly one of the first casinos in the country,” said Mr. Martin. “We’re also excited to offer private ownership within Rusutsu Resort; a new way for property owners to partner directly with the resort operator.”

The combined ski resorts of Niseko, Kiroro and the new-look Rusutsu are aiming to become the most desirable ski region in Asia, rivalling the multi-resort destinations of North America.

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