Would-be casino city Yokohama held on Tuesday the first meeting of a local body called the Yokohama Innovation IR Council. Its main purpose is to bring together public-sector agencies and institutions and private-sector ones in that Japanese city, to develop local consensus and agreement about having there a casino complex or integrated resort (IR) – as they are known in Japan.
Whichever operator-consortium is selected by the Japanese metropolis (pictured) in the latter’s tilt at having a casino complex, is to become a member of the Innovation IR Council. That is according to information collated by GGRAsia’s correspondent.
The body currently also has representatives from, respectively: the local Kanagawa prefecture; Kanagawa prefectural police agency; and the private business and academic sectors, including Yokohama Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Yokohama City University; as well as city resident groups.
On Tuesday, leading officials of the various member organisations attended the inaugural meeting, according to GGRAsia’s correspondent.
Anti-casino lobbyists have already submitted enough signatures of local people to permit in theory the tabling of motion at the city’s governing council calling for a referendum on the IR idea.
The Innovation IR Council – working on the premise of support in principle for a casino resort – is due to discuss and give opinions to the city government on topics including IR implementation policy at local level; operator selection; and the overall IR development plan.
At the first meeting, Fumiko Hayashi, Yokohama’s mayor – who has faced criticism from the ‘anti’ lobby – stated the city would proceed with IR work.
According also to the public portion of Tuesday’s proceedings, Kanagawa’s governor, Yuji Kuroiwa, said the prefecture would provide as much support for Yokohama’s IR efforts as it could muster. That included on development of countermeasures against gambling addiction, in order to allay concerns among opponents of the IR policy.
On October 13, authorities in Yokohama said they would conduct a fresh request-for-concept (RFC) phase in the community’s tilt at getting a casino resort. The new RFC phase began that day and will run until the end of November.
According to GGRAsia’s correspondent, as part of the new RFC phase, the city is going to have further discussions with private-sector firms – including casino operators – that had involvement in an earlier RFC phase before the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Upon that fresh discussion, Yokohama would revise its estimates of the economic effects of a local IR, and the schedule for realising one.
The Yokohama Innovation IR Council is a separate body from the city’s Yokohama IR Promotion Council, according to GGRAsia’s correspondent.
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