Osaka, Wakayama Prefecture and Nagasaki Prefecture are so far the only three Japanese destinations where the respective governments have openly expressed interest in hosting one of the country’s first casino resorts. So says a report from the Kyodo news agency.
The news agency contacted – between November and December – all of Japan’s 47 prefectures and 20 major cities that are eligible to apply to host a so-called integrated resort (IR) featuring a casino. Of those, only Osaka – in a joint effort between the city and its surrounding prefecture – as well as Wakayama prefecture and Nagasaki prefecture respectively expressed interest in hosting a casino resort.
‘No plans to apply’ responses came from 40 local governments, according to Kyodo News. “Dozens more are reluctant to do so amid concerns over public safety,” Kyodo News reported.
Japan’s Integrated Resorts Implementation Act requires local governments wishing to act as a host for a casino resort to make a formal resolution to that effect.
Under Japan’s liberalisation process for casino business, interested local governments must first select business partners. The respective proposals – to be put forward by the local governments with their selected business partners – will be evaluated by Japan’s national government. Only a maximum of three licences will be available in the first wave of market liberalisation.
Kyodo News stated that Nagoya, a city in Aichi Prefecture in central Japan, was said to be “positively considering making an application” for an integrated resort. Local authorities were currently looking for “a suitable location,” according to Kyodo News’ report.
Other places where local governments were also considering bidding for a casino resort reportedly included Tokyo, Hokkaido, Ibaraki Prefecture and the cities of Chiba and Yokohama. In addition – and according to Kyodo News’ contacts – 17 local governments were “undecided” on the matter.
Earlier this month, an advisory panel to Hokkaido prefecture’s government identified Tomakomai City, an industrial port on the south coast of the most northerly of Japan’s main islands, as the preferred site for an integrated resort. Hokkaido prefecture has yet to make a formal decision about whether it wishes to bid to the national government to host one of the initial three casino licences.
In Osaka, the process is more advanced. The prefecture and city authorities have announced plans to start this spring the undertaking of selecting commercial partners in its effort to host one of Japan’s first casino resorts.
Meanwhile, the prefectural government of Wakayama stated last week the region might have a “fair chance” to be selected to host a casino resort if the host sites are chosen based on balanced proposals. Wakayama ran a request-for-information (RFI) process in 2018, which attracted submissions from seven casino operators.
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"MGM Resorts remains deeply committed to pursuing an integrated resort in Osaka, Japan"
Chairman and chief executive of United States-based casino operator MGM Resorts