US-based real estate developer and regional casino operator Rush Street has officially declared its intention to bid for a Japan IR license in Hokkaido.
The company announced this week that it has now opened its first office in Tomakomai under the name Rush Street Japan, stating that it aims to work with the city and engage with the local business community and residents to develop an IR proposal that “serves the needs of all stakeholders, including domestic and international customers, employees and the broader community at large.”
Rush Street added that its on-the-ground presence will help it create a locally relevant IR.
“Japan is an extremely exciting market for us,” said Rush Street’s co-founder and Chairman, Neil Bluhm.
“We have deliberately delayed our entrance to the Asian markets until we could be sure we could create something that truly aligns to our own vision and values. We bring an expertise and strong track record in establishing sustainable facilities that benefit our host communities through a focus on inclusivity and partnership. Building an IR of this kind in Hokkaido not only will transform the region from an economic standpoint, it will put Hokkaido on the map as a global travel destination.”
Rush Street CFO Tim Drehkoff added that Rush Street sees Japan as a long-term strategy but that “it cannot be viewed as a one size fits all. What works in Hokkaido is very different to what might work in other prefectures. We have spent a lot of time in Japan in recent years, and in Hokkaido in particular, listening to the views of the local communities and the officials within who will act as host to these IRs. It is clear to us that building a resort which operates as part of the community is critical. Working with our team in Japan, we are committed to delivering a resort that will create a lasting impact.”
In an exclusive interview with Inside Asian Gaming this week, Bluhm revealed that Rush Street was focusing entirely on Hokkaido which he said better aligns with the company’s vision as opposed to other potential regional IR locations.
“Doing something in Tomakomai, Hokkaido fits right into what we do so that’s why we’ve set our sights on Hokkaido and Tomakomai,” he said.
“Our only interest right now is Tomakomai. We’re putting all of our efforts there. Somebody asked me, ‘What would happen if Hokkaido decided they didn’t want an integrated resort?’
“Well if that were the case we’d have ot reconsider some other locations but right now we’re just focusing on Tomakomai.”
Based in Chicago, Rush Street was founded in the early 1990s as a real estate development firm but has since established itself as a leading developer and operator of regional casinos in the United States with properties in Chicago, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and New York State among other locations.