Japan’s Nagasaki prefecture still plans “this spring” a request-for-proposal (RFP) phase to find private-sector partners in its tilt at having a casino resort. That is according to information relayed to GGRAsia from the local government.
That would mean – for now – no change in the schedule that it had reiterated in January, regarding the effort to get such a facility, or integrated resort (IR) as large-scale complexes with a casino, hotels, meeting space, entertainment areas and shopping are known in Japan. In late March, Osaka put its own casino RFP back by three months, although didn’t specify the reasoning.
Meanwhile the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, which has affected Japan as well as neighbouring countries, is making normal business travel to and around Japan; along with events such as public meetings, more complicated to arrange than before.
An important factor affecting Nagasaki’s RFP is the timing of the national government’s so-called IR basic policy. That had been due in March, according to commentary from the central authorities earlier this year.
Nagasaki, which is representing the whole of the Kyushu region in the casino race, would like to put such a resort on a circa 31-hectare (76.6-acre) site at the Huis Ten Bosch theme park (pictured in a file photo) in Sasebo city, which is part of Nagasaki prefecture.
Local governments wishing to host an integrated resort will need to apply to the central authorities for the right to have one. A maximum of three such facilities will be permitted Japan in a first phase of liberalisation.
On Monday the prefecture published an updated version of what it calls the local IR Basic Concept Plan. It includes the prefectural government’s updated estimates on what it terms the “economic ripple effect” that an IR scheme could bring to Kyushu as a whole.
The document suggests an IR scheme in Sasebo city could generate JPY610 billion (US$5.6 billion) to JPY810 billion in construction-related economic benefits to Kyushu as a whole. Once an IR scheme were operational, it could generate for the whole region between JPY320 billion and JPY420 billion in an “economic ripple effect”, according to the forecast in the plan.
The prefectural government says an IR scheme could create construction-related jobs for 630,000 to 840,000 people in Kyushu; and indirectly create jobs for 280,000 to 360,000 people in Kyushu when the scheme is in operation.
Emergency in seven places
Currently, Nagasaki prefecture anticipates that an IR scheme in Sasebo city could at “soonest” be launched in 2025, it relayed to us.
In mid-March a number of casino industry commentators had told GGRAsia they did not expect – at that stage – the Covid-19 emergency to push back the national government’s first-half 2021 timetable for local governments to apply to host an IR.
Starting on Wednesday, seven prefectures in Japan are set to enter a state of emergency for a month in relation to Covid-19. The country’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, was due to declare the move during Tuesday, with the aim of curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus, according to Japanese news agency Kyodo News. The seven prefectures covered by the declaration of emergency are Tokyo, Osaka, Chiba, Kanagawa, Saitama, Hyogo and Fukuoka.
Under the move, local governments can urge their citizens to refrain from non-essential travel and movement outside. Those governments are also being given powers under which they can temporarily close schools, social welfare facilities, theatres, music-performance venues and sports stadiums.
The state of emergency declaration also empowers the local governments in Japan to take control – temporarily – of facilities that could be used to supplement standard healthcare premises.
According to information given on Tuesday by Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, the country had just over 3,900 confirmed cases of Covid-19 as of that time.
(Updated 1.30pm, Apr 8)
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"One thing that is certain under the coronavirus era is that the biggest beneficiaries are the illegal operators, both bricks and mortar and online"
Partner and director overseeing government affairs at casino industry consultancy Global Market Advisors