Osaka prefecture said on Friday that a key phase in the city’s effort on a possible casino resort would be put back by three months.
The Osaka authorities have not however changed their timetable for opening a casino resort in the metropolis. That remains as prior to the end of March 2027, the end of the country’s 2026-financial year, according to information collated by GGRAsia’s Japan correspondent.
Nonetheless, according to Friday’s announcement, the deadline for Osaka’s request-for-proposal (RFP) phase of its tilt at an IR will be put back to July, compared to an earlier deadline of April. Osaka city and prefecture are jointly leading the casino resort bid process.
The latest announcement meant that the Osaka authorities have now given up an ambition to get an integrated resort or “IR” – as large-scale casino complexes with other tourism facilities are known in that country – open in Osaka before the city hosts World Expo 2025. In December, Osaka’s mayor, Ichiro Matsui, said it was likely that a casino resort could only be opened in that city in 2026.
Osaka is due to host the expo on Yumeshima – the same artificial island in Osaka Bay (pictured) that has been earmarked for the metropolis’ casino resort – from April 13 to October 13 in 2025. It was announced last week that Japan would postpone until 2021 – due to the coronavirus pandemic – the summer Olympic Games it was due to host this summer in Tokyo.
According to the Friday announcement, the date for appointing the private-sector partner for Osaka’s IR tilt has been moved back to September, from an originally-planned June announcement.
In February the Osaka authorities said the only qualified applicant for its RFP phase was a consortium consisting of United States-based casino operator MGM Resorts International and Japanese financial services group Orix Corp.
Local governments wishing to host a casino resort will need to apply to the central authorities for the right to have one. A maximum of three resorts will be permitted in a first phase of liberalisation.
According to information collated by GGRAsia’s correspondent, Osaka’s revised timetable assumes the national government will maintain its January to July 2021 application period for local governments.
Reports of Osaka’s timetable revision did not specify reasons for the move. The news coincided however with the spread within Japan of the novel coronavirus.
According to a website from Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare dedicated to the coronavirus outbreak as it has affected that nation, as of Monday morning, Osaka prefecture had 184 confirmed cases of Covid-19 infection, out of the country’s 1,420 confirmed cases.
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Partner and director overseeing government affairs at casino industry consultancy Global Market Advisors