Yokohama’s mayor, Fumiko Hayashi, reportedly wants the Japanese city (pictured) to begin policy implementation work soon to attract investment for a so-called integrated resort or “IR” featuring a casino.
Ms Hayashi is also reportedly seeking to secure a JPY260 million (US$2.4 million) budget from public funds to support that effort, reported on Monday the Kanagawa Shimbun newspaper, which cited an unidentified person said to be close to the city authorities.
The mayor has yet to make an outright and public statement of policy support for such a project, although the city engaged in a request-for-information (RFI) process earlier this year.
The IR promotion budget would be spent on preparing the city’s IR implementation policy, the operator selection process, and the city’s IR application to the national government. That work would be carried out by a team of Yokohama officials specially chosen for that purpose. According to the news outlet, a site close to Yamashita pier has been confirmed as the preferred site.
Under Japan’s casino liberalisation process, local governments interested in hosting a casino resort must first choose commercial partners, and then apply to the central authorities to have a casino resort. Up to three such venues will be allowed in the first phase of market opening up.
Osaka prefecture and city has been a front runner in the race to have one, with officials still holding out hope that the latter metropolis could open a casino resort to coincide with World Expo 2025, to be held in Osaka.
A note earlier this month from brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd, said that two big-city IRs – possibly Yokohama and Osaka – and one in a smaller regional centre, might eventually generate in aggregate, gross gaming revenue (GGR) of US$7 billion to US$8 billion per year.
The initial findings – announced in late May – of Yokohama’s RFI process, aimed at potential commercial partners, had responses from 12 entities. The tally included leading foreign operators of casinos.
Following that feedback from the private sector, the local government identified that the capital investment for Yokohama could be as much as JPY1.3 trillion (US$11.9 billion). The lowest figure mentioned was JPY620 billion.
In June, several public consultation meetings were held on the idea of having a casino venue in Yokohama.
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Fitch's revised forecast for annual gross gaming revenue per casino resort in Japan