The government of the Wakayama prefecture in Japan says it will announce by November an integrated resort (IR) master plan.
“We have been formulating a master plan for the establishment of an IR and will try to fix [announce] it by November,” an official of the Wakayama prefectural government told GGRAsia in an email.
“After that, I think the RFC [request for concept] process will start in December,” said the official from the government’s planning department. The specifics of the plan might change depending on policy progress made at national level, the person added.
Japan is part way down a path to creating a legal and regulated casino industry, and the national government is currently drafting a second piece of legislation – known as IR Implementation Bill – on specifics including how casinos are administered and regulated.
Wakayama prefecture – on the southern coast of Honshu island in Japan – is determined to pursue a casino resort development, even in the face of intense competition from other local authorities in Japan.
Wakayama’s government said it plans to announce its own integrated resort master plan by November even if the IR Implementation Bill has not been approved by then. The current ordinary session of Japan’s parliament ends on June 18, while the extraordinary session is due to start in the autumn and end in December. If the IR Implementation Bill is not passed in the extraordinary session, it would need to wait until the next ordinary session of the parliament beginning in January 2018.
“We think it’s important to share our plan with operators and the citizens of Wakayama as soon as possible,” said the Wakayama government official.
It is likely to be August at the earliest before a steering body made up of Japanese cabinet ministers makes public the outline of the IR Implementation Bill, according to comments made recently to GGRAsia by a senior official of the Office of Integrated Resort Regime Promotion.
Banking group Morgan Stanley had suggested in a May note that under that best-case scenario, the IR Implementation Bill might be passed by the country’s parliament in the 2017 extraordinary session.
The Wakayama government has proposed development of a foreigner-only casino as a way of allaying public concern on issues such as the risk of gambling addiction among locals.
An artificial island called Marina City is the candidate site for hosting a casino resort, due to its existing marine leisure facilities and proximity to Kansai Airport, Wakayama’s governor, Yoshinobu Nisaka, said in an interview last month with GGRAsia.
The local government said it continues to have meetings with casino operators and companies that have shown interest in investing in Wakayama.
The meetings were with “local and foreign companies,” the official said in the email, without identifying the parties involved.
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