May 11, 2017 / 10:16 AM / 5 months ago

Sega Sammy says to seek majority stake in Japan casino resort

TOKYO (Reuters) - Slot machine maker Sega Sammy Holdings Inc (6460.T) said on Thursday it would seek a majority stake in any Japanese casino project, one of a few domestic firms to detail plans for a sector already drawing intense interest from global gambling companies.

Japan legalized casinos in December, attracting international operators including Las Vegas Sands (LVS.N), Galaxy Entertainment Corp (GALE.BO) and MGM Resorts International (MGM.N).

But few Japanese companies have spoken publicly about their plans for the sector amid widespread public opposition to the introduction of casinos.

“We definitely want to take a bigger stake in Japan - not just the entertainment part, but the whole (casino) resort,” President and Chief Operating Officer Haruki Satomi told reporters on the sidelines of a conference in Tokyo.

“We hope (to take a majority stake). We are preparing for that,” he said.

Tokyo-based Sega Sammy holds a 45 percent stake in a resort in South Korea, which opened last month, and provides entertainment content. Paradise Co Ltd (034230.KQ), the country’s biggest casino operator, is the majority shareholder.

Foreign casinos operators are courting real estate, construction and transportation firms in Japan to form operating consortia, and have expressed flexibility as to the size of their equity involvement.

Galaxy has said it would not insist on a majority stake. Hard Rock Cafe International has also said it was seeking equity of between 40 and 60 percent.

Japan is now preparing legislation, due by December, to lay out rules on selecting hosts and operators for the casino resorts. It is widely expected to grant licenses to three locations initially, with Osaka and Yokohama seen as front-runners.

Reporting by Thomas Wilson; Editing by Miral Fahmy

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