In an emphatic response to allegations of illegitimate gains from LeoVegas’ online casino operations in Japan, MGM Resorts International issued a strong denial, calling the claims “completely unacceptable” and “baseless.”
The Controversy Over MGM’s Casino License
MGM Resorts, in collaboration with the city of Osaka, procured the first-ever casino license in Japan in April and has since announced plans for a $10 billion integrated resort on the artificial island of Yumeshima. However, a local advocacy group, the Society for Considering Gambling Addiction Problems (SCGA), has called for the withdrawal of MGM’s license and suspension of the proposed resort’s construction.
The SCGA held a press conference to allege that MGM could have benefitted from unlawful earnings from LeoVegas, a company MGM acquired in a $607m deal last year. The group claimed LeoVegas unlawfully targeted Japanese players through online casino websites, which, if true, could potentially violate sections 11 and 18 of Japan’s Act on Punishment of Organised Crime, thus disqualifying MGM from holding a key shareholder position in a Japanese integrated resort.
MGM Resorts Responds to Allegations
Reacting to these allegations, MGM Resorts released a statement on its Japan-focused corporate website denying any involvement in such activities. The company defended its stance on responsible gaming and expressed eagerness to collaborate with stakeholders to create a world-class, safe integrated resort in Osaka.
The statement read, “MGM Resorts International has always prided itself on promoting responsible gaming at all of our facilities. MGM looks forward to working closely with all stakeholders to develop a world-class safe integrated resort in Osaka.”
It added, “Please note that the allegations made by some groups are baseless and may lead to misunderstandings.”
MGM’s Acquisition of LeoVegas
Before MGM Resorts acquired LeoVegas, a Swedish gaming company, both the LeoVegas brand and its Royal Panda brand were operational in Japan. However, both brands pledged to exit the Japanese market by the end of August 2022, and MGM completed the acquisition in September.
MGM Resorts International stated on its website that before the acquisition was finalized, LeoVegas was asked to block access to its site from Japan. Therefore, MGM’s evaluation of LeoVegas’ acquisition was based on the company’s business and operational conditions, excluding the Japanese market.
MGM’s Continued Commitment to Responsible Gaming
MGM’s President and CEO, Bill Hornbuckle, welcomed the acquisition of LeoVegas as a “major milestone” for MGM Resorts in expanding their online gaming footprint globally. He expressed enthusiasm for the future of their digital gaming business and the potential for a robust omnichannel strategy.
Despite the allegations and the ensuing controversy, MGM Resorts remains committed to its plans to develop the integrated resort on Yumeshima. It firmly believes that the accusations are unfounded, and it will continue its responsible gaming operations, honoring all regulations and laws.
At the time of writing, MGM Resorts International (MGM) is trading at $49.71, up by 1.45%. The company continues to refute the accusations, describing them as “unfounded and unacceptable.”
Stay tuned for more updates as the story continues to unfold. For the latest news on MGM Resorts and other industry developments, make sure to follow our updates.
Scrutiny of the Integrated Resort Plans in Osaka
The central government of Japan officially approved Osaka’s Integrated Resort (IR) development plan in April. The plan envisions MGM as the primary operating body of the Japanese IR area, further intensifying the scrutiny surrounding the MGM-LeoVegas acquisition.
The SCGA contends that the approval of the Osaka IR plan by the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism was premature. They believe the decision should be revoked until it’s clearly confirmed that MGM has not benefitted from LeoVegas’ purported criminal proceeds.
The Legal Implications and MGM’s Stand
While these allegations could carry significant legal implications for MGM’s presence and future in Japan, the company stands firm. They maintain that the accusations made by SCGA are baseless and can lead to misunderstandings. MGM has gone as far as to highlight their proactive approach to the issue – requesting LeoVegas to block access to its site from within Japan prior to the acquisition.
The Bigger Picture: The Impact on the Casino Industry
The MGM-LeoVegas controversy marks a crucial moment in the relatively nascent Japanese casino industry. The industry has been under close watch due to concerns about gambling addiction and crime rates. The result of this dispute could potentially set a precedent for the nascent casino sector in Japan and its forthcoming regulation.
It is evident that MGM has a lot at stake. Despite facing strong opposition, MGM remains committed to building a world-class integrated resort in Osaka, which promises to boost the local economy and tourism.
Looking Forward: MGM’s Future in Japan
MGM’s unwavering commitment to its Japan venture amid the controversy indicates a willingness to tackle these challenges head-on. As they continue to navigate these waters, one thing is certain: the company’s actions in the coming months will be closely watched by industry insiders, stakeholders, and the public alike.
Regardless of the ongoing allegations, MGM maintains that it has always promoted responsible gaming and will continue to uphold the highest standards of integrity and transparency in its operations.
Closing out, it remains crucial to remember that these allegations are as yet unproven. As the debate continues, MGM Resorts International remains hopeful and committed to realizing its vision for a world-class integrated resort in Osaka.
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