UPDATED: Caesars Entertainment joins Clairvest Neem Ventures in the future Wakayama Marina City IR project

UPDATED: Caesars Entertainment joins Clairvest Neem Ventures in the future Wakayama Marina City IR project

  • Buck Wargo, CDC Gaming Reports
September 30, 2021 12:38 AM
  • Buck Wargo, CDC Gaming Reports
  • Other

Clairvest Neem Ventures K.K. (CNV) announced the participation of Caesars Entertainment, Inc., in its development and operating consortium for a Wakayama Marina City-based integrated resort in Japan. Caesars, which joins with no capital commitment, re-enters the Japanese market after pulling out in 2019 amid a takeover bid by Eldorado Resorts that was completed in July 2020. 

A news release put out by CNV said the combination aligns CNV, “one of the most experienced integrated resort development and management teams in the world, with Caesars Entertainment, one of the gaming industry’s best-known brands and an elite casino operator.” 

CNV was selected by the prefecture in June 2021 as its development and integrated operating partner to obtain a national license.  

The announcement comes the same week as Osaka Prefecture and Osaka City announced a consortium comprising MGM Resorts and Japanese finance giant ORIX Corp. as their preferred partner to develop an integrated resort. 

“Caesars and CNV share a common vision for Japan’s national integrated resort program,” said Eddie Woo, representative director of CNV. “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.” 

Caesars CEO Tom Regg said his company, as an iconic brand, is proud to partner with CNV to bring the Wakayama IR to Japan. 

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

Brendan Bussmann, director of government affairs for Global Market Advisors, told CDC Gaming Reports that the selection of Caesars shows Clairvest wanted a world-recognized brand that had Nevada roots. It’s important to the Japanese to make sure they have strong operators coming into their market, he said. 

“It also recognizes Caesars’ desire to have a presence internationally as they continue to emerge from their merger a year-plus ago,” Bussmann said. 

Bussmann said Caesars, though it will have no financial investment, will play the role of the operator. Caesars has a strong international database that it can pull from that will help Clairvest, he said. 

Bussmann said that with the MGM announcement this week, it shows Japan is “moving forward with integrated resorts, despite some of the political challenges that have happened there.”

Fumio Kishida is set to become the new prime minister after a special parliamentary session in Japan on Thursday Tokyo time. 

“It shows it can be a strong market if you are attracting operators like MGM and Caesars that have continued to show interest,” Bussmann said. “Prior to their bowing out in 2019 to focus on domestic and securing those assets and the merger, Caesars had nearly 20 years invested in trying to get a license there.” 

Caesars was working mostly on Yokohama before the company pulled out, Bussman said. Most bidders other than MGM had pulled out of Osaka. Nagasaki recently signed a master agreement with Casinos Austria International to develop its IR. 

CNV said that via “thoughtful analysis and meticulous planning by its seasoned principals,” it selected Wakayama as its preferred point of entry into what is perceived as the last remaining major integrated-resort market in the world. 

CNV touted Caesars as having 80 years of experience working with municipal and state governments and the surrounding communities to provide the highest level of service and experiences to its customers. Caesars operates more than 50 properties across its portfolio.  

“As one of the largest and most dynamic casino and resort operators in the world, Caesars creates world-class gaming and entertainment experiences,” the CNV release said. “In addition to its breadth of experience in operations and development, Caesars Entertainment prides itself on a reputation for responsible gaming.” 

The CNV team comprises a complement of integrated industry professionals and operators, including Mario Ho, an e-sports and entertainment entrepreneur, director of CNV, and chairman and Co-CEO of NIP Group, a multinational e-sports organization; Clairvest Group, a Canadian private-equity firm with experience in 30 different land-based gaming and entertainment resorts in Canada, the United States, and Chile; and William Weidner, former president and COO of Las Vegas Sands Corp. and his team, consisting of Bradley Stone, former president of global operations and construction at LVS, and Garry Saunders, former COO of Melco Resorts and Entertainment and vice president of international operations for LVS. 

“The combined experience of the parties, coupled with the dynamic location and supportive regulatory policy, will allow CNV to develop what will be the next major global integrated resort destination,” the release said.