Japan’s national government would not start accepting for consideration local authorities’ plans for integrated resorts – as casino complexes are known in that country – until January 4, 2021.
That is according to a proposal revealed on Tuesday by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, as reported by the Kyodo news agency. It referred to a framework that will form part of the “basic policy” on casino resorts or “IRs” as they are also described in Japan.
The proposed closing date for such submissions would be July 30, 2021.
The national government’s suggested timetable is be the subject of public consultation up to December 18 this year. After that, the central authorities are expected to make a announcement on the final timings for IR proposal submissions.
The Kyodo report of Tuesday’s announcement did not mention a schedule for the national government deciding on such local submissions.
Commentators have mentioned it would typically take three or four years to build a large-scale casino resort, so the just-announced timetable proposal – if adopted – might mean the market could only open for business in the second half of the decade at the earliest.
According to Tuesday’s announcement, local governments eligible to host a casino resort – i.e., prefectures and so-called ordinance-level cities – would have from now until the end of 2020 to establish their implementation policy for such a scheme, and select private-sector partners as stipulated under previous announcements.
The government first made public a draft version of the basic policy in early September, but did not at that stage mention the application timetable.
Kyodo reported on Tuesday that subsequent to the September policy outline, the central authorities had looked into the issue of how far advanced were preparations by local governments.
Two of the most active places – Osaka and Yokohama – are among eight places in Japan definitely considering seeking national government permission to host casino resorts, according to comments in September by Kazuyoshi Akaba, Japan’s Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. The others were: Hokkaido, Wakayama, Chiba, Tokyo, Nagoya and Nagasaki.
At last week’s MGS Entertainment Show 2019 held in Macau, a panel of Japanese experts on the casino liberalisation topic had discussed the possibility of 2021 as the starting point for submissions to national government.
The panel heard that – for that reason – Osaka was likely to move ahead with a request-for-proposal (RFP) process for a casino resort in that Japanese prefecture and city, even before the country’s national government puts forward the finalised version of its so-called basic policy on integrated resorts.
Osaka city and prefecture have declared an ambition to launch a casino resort by 2025, to coincide with the metropolis hosting the World Expo that year.
On Monday Kyodo reported that the national government was considering bringing forward the start of that event by “two to three weeks” from the original date of May 3, 2025.
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”After deep reflection we decided at this time that our focus should be on other potential locations in Japan [beyond Osaka], including among others, Yokohama”
Francis Lui Yiu Tung
Vce-chairman of Macau casino operator Galaxy Entertainment Group