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MGM Resorts has fought back against allegations that it gained from illicit online casino activities in Japan following its acquisition of LeoVegas.

The operator, in partnership with the city of Osaka, secured the inaugural casino licence in Japan in April and is planning to construct an $10bn integrated resort complex on the artificial island of Yumeshima.

However, a local lobby group known as the Society for Considering Gambling Addiction Problems (SCGA) has dramatically requested that MGM’s licence be withdrawn and has filed a petition to have the building project suspended.

The SCGA called a press conference to allege that MGM may have profited from illegal earnings garnered by LeoVegas in Japan, which it claimed unlawfully targeted Japanese players through online casino websites.

The group pointed out that MGM would be in breach of sections 11 and 18 of the Act on Punishment of Organised Crime in Japan, which could disqualify it from being approved as a key shareholder in a Japanese integrated resort, per the country’s gambling laws.

MGM vigorously denied the allegations, however, describing them as “groundless” and “completely unacceptable” in a statement on its Japan-facing corporate website.

It added: “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.

“Please note that the allegations made by some groups are baseless and may lead to misunderstandings.”

MGM last year acquired Swedish operator LeoVegas in a $607m deal. Prior to the purchase, both the flagship LeoVegas brand and the firm’s Royal Panda brand were active in Japan.

However, both brands committed to exiting the country by the end of August 2022 and the deal completed in September.

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