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Casino Tycoon Lawrence Ho Poised to Expand Business in Japan

Japan’s regulated online gambling market is among the youngest ones. It was December 2016, when the country has announced its decision to open its casino gambling market and the government commenced work on a new gambling regulatory framework. Since then, many casino bigwigs started to eye the fresh and untouched Japanese market, which offers great potential for development and growth. The billionaire Macau casino magnate Lawrence Ho is among the casino magnates, who wants to leave a footprint in the Japanese gambling market and expand its presence in the international market,

Lawrence Ho, also known as the son of the Macau gaming pioneer Stanley Ho, aims to enter the lucrative Japanese gambling market and expand his family’s reach beyond Macau. Here it is important to note that his father, who is currently retired, is the main reason for Macau’s proliferating gambling industry. Thanks to his efforts, Macau was recognized as the China’s gambling Mecca, being able to compete even with Las Vegas. Unfortunately, Macau’s gambling industry has suffered a significant slowdown in the recent years amid a corruption crackdown by President Xi Jinping. Consequently, Lawrence Ho launched a project to diversify his Macau-based company’s offerings.

But Mr. Ho’s son seems to have set higher goals, going beyond the footsteps of his father. Lawrence Ho is currently in control of Hong Kong-listed Melco International, which is the majority owner of Melco Crown. A brief flashback reminds that the 40-year-old Lawrence Ho has already started to work on the company’s expansion strategy, establishing casino resorts facilities in both the Philippines and Russia. Now, the young Ho is aiming to enter the glowing Japanese market, which promises to be on par with Las Vegas. Earlier this year, Mr. Ho explained that he is ready to invest heavily in establishing a multi-purpose integrated casino resort in Japan, trying to win Japan casino license bidding war.

At the Forbes Global CEO Conference in Hong Kong, which took place on Wednesday last week, Lawrence Ho paid tribute to his father’s achievements, but he explained that the 40-year-long lack of competition in Macau contributed to a great extent to his father’s success. He added that unlike his father, he has the intention to further expand the family’s business.

Japanese Gambling Market in a Nutshell

In December 2016, Japan finally legalized its long-coveted casino gambling market, approving only 1 of the 2 planned bills. The Promotional Integrated Resorts Bill was the first step to regulating the industry, allowing the provision of casino games across the country. A second bill, also known as Implementation Bill, is to establish the regulatory framework, under which all casino operations should be conducted. Nevertheless, the newly-regulated casino industry gave rise to concerns, regarding the social ills and addictions, which gambling can cause. The lawmakers are currently working on crafting an adequate and efficient responsible gambling framework, which is to curb any possible gambling problems. This, on the other hand, led to many constraints and limits, which may only hamper the projected growth of the Japanese gambling market and scare investors. At this moment, Japan seems to be a big deal, but unfinished one.