H.I.S. eyeing Japan island as part of its casino plans


Another day, another company expressing interest in the Japanese casino market, even if said market has yet to be legalized.

Numerous foreign operators have already voiced their interest in bidding for a casino once the Japanese market opens, so its no surprise that more and more companies are stepping up to the plate. This time, Tokyo-based travel agency and park operator H.I.S. Co. has set its sights on buying a deserted offshore island to boost its appeal as a potential site for a casino resort.

Hmm. Buying an island. That’s a strategy we haven’t seen before. But H.I.S., the country’s largest listed travel agency, seems to believe that the plan has some legs to it. Chairman Hideo Sawada expressed confidence that his company can lease land to casino developers at its Dutch-themed Huis Ten Bosch amusement park in Nagasaki on the western edge of Japan’s Kyushu island.

If Sawada is hitching his wagon on his amusement park to drive in more visitors to entice casino developers, it’s a plan that could actually work. For one, the sheer size of Huis Ten Bosch – it’s spread across 1.52 million sq. meters of land – is enough to accommodate a big casino developer. And that’s not even counting the uninhabited island the company plans to buy. Another thing, the theme park actually attracts a lot of visitors, as shown by its healthy visitation number in 2013 when 2.48 million tourists came to the theme park, 29 percent more than its numbers in 2012. Those record numbers were also reflected on Huis Ten Bosch’s operating profit in 2013 when it almost doubled its revenue to