On Wednesday, the Nevada Gaming Control Board met with developers seeking a license to build a $2 billion Asian-style casino resort on a 5×16-block ares in historic West Las Vegas. While the Board agreed the project does have legitimate potential, the license application was ultimately denied due to a lack of assurance regarding the reliability of the developer’s financial backing.
The hearing lasted three hours as Steve Hayashi, owner of the property, his attorney, John Maloney, and other members of the development team explained the full scope of their plan to the 3-panel Gaming Control Board, consisting of Board Chairman A. G. Burnett, Shawn Reid and Terry Johnson.
The plans for Tokyo Casino on Jackson Ave. in West Las Vegas included an 8,000 square foot casino complete with 102 slot machines to start. The property would be expanded over time to erect a 400-room high-rise hotel and 2,000-seat center for the performing arts.
Other investors involved in the development plan were looking to build smaller boutique hotels and restaurants on the 5×16 block property. All of the structures would exude an Asian theme, including a special Japanese experience complete with Japanese gardens. Developers even painted a fanciful picture of a beautiful gondola to connect the property with Interstate 15 on the eastern side.
Casino Resort Too Good To Be True?
In theory, it seems like a fantastic plan, and one that the Gaming Control Board would be excited about, especially considering the affluence of Asian VIPs who frequent the City of Sin. However, it was that same fantastical design – and the financial backing required to pull it off – that convinced them to reject the license application in the end.
The primary concerns voiced by Burnett, Reid and Johnson all revolved around the developer’s ability – or lack thereof – to finance such an extravagant project in the city’s historic district. And language barriers certainly didn’t help the situation.
Mr. Hayashi spoke via a translator during the three-hour meeting, and attempts to reach financial backers overseas failed as none of the Board’s phone calls were ever returned. Thus the Board was never able to communicate its concerns or ask questions of those backers, who’s unreturned calls were blamed on language barriers and a lack of understanding the importance of those pending questions.
Hayashi’s attorney, Mr. Maloney, told the board that the financial backers include Mitsuyasu Shigeta, who operates numerous Japanese restaurants in Southern California, and Emi Mauri, a restaurateur out of Japan. Maloney said that Hayashi received loans and financial commitments from both backers.
No-Go For Tokyo Casino Resort in Vegas
Without further information to rely on, the Board said they weren’t convinced that the trio’s holding company – 89% owned by Hayashi, 10% by Shigeta and 1% by Mauri – had sufficient funds to complete the project. Thus they couldn’t approve the license application for the new Asian-themed casino resort in West Las Vegas.
“I simply can’t make the call right now,” said Chairman Burnett. “I still have a lot of questions about the financing.”
Johnson agreed, saying, “This all seemed rushed, disjointed and injected with nonresponsiveness.”
Reid admitted that, while the financial backing could be legitimate, “we have no idea where this money is coming from.”