Melco Crown Has Its Sights Set on Japan's New Gaming Market

By Travis Hoium Markets Fool.com

The race is on to win a coveted gaming license in Japan, and Melco Crown (NASDAQ: MPEL) has thrown its hat in the ring in a big way. On Wednesday, the company revealed potential design plans for two resorts in the region, hoping to show off its design prowess and signal that it wants to be a good partner with the community.

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This follows MGM Resorts (NYSE: MGM)laying out its own design and Las Vegas Sands (NYSE: LVS) and Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ: WYNN) both expressing their interest and offering to spend as much as $10 billion on a resort. There are high stakes for gaming companies as they jockey for position in what could be a $40 billion market.

Melco Crown's new designs for Japan

Melco Crown released two designs for Japan on Wednesday. One is for Umekita and the other on a man-made island called Yumeshima in Osaka. The first design is below for Umekita and shows a wavy urban design.

Image source: Melco Crown.

The second is the Yumeshima man-made island and includes space to dock cruise ships, large water features, and multiple buildings in the complex.

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Image source: Melco Crown.

These are currently just concepts but they're intended to flaunt what Melco Crown might do. MGM Resorts did something similar as far back as 2014 with its Osaka designs. No matter what ends up being built, it looks like the designs will be incredible.

Japan investments could be mind-boggling

Investing in Japan isn't going to be a small endeavor for any company. Las Vegas Sands has thrown out the idea of spending $10 billion and that seems to be a number others aren't going to balk at. By comparison, Wynn Palace on Cotai was recently completed at a cost of $4.4 billion and CityCenter in Las Vegas cost about $9.2 billion.

There could also be multiple awards, meaning multiple resorts with 11-figure price tags. Melco Crown didn't set a cost projection, but seemed to indicate that price wouldn't be a determining factor, either.

A long way to go before a winner is determined

Gaming companies are still expecting final rules around gaming to be defined by the end of this year, and some sort of bidding process to give out bids will then ensue. More companies will emerge outside of Melco Crown, Wynn Resorts, MGM, and Las Vegas Sands, but with those big names in the running, there are sure to be spectacular designs and fierce competition.

We'll also have to see if any of them bring in local partners, which could be an advantage in winning a bid in Japan. What we know right now is that everyone is angling for the Japan market, and if it moves forward as planned, this could be the biggest growth opportunity the industry has seen since Macau opened up to U.S. investors.

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Travis Hoium owns shares of Wynn Resorts. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.