The mayor of Osaka, Ichiro Matsui, said on Friday that it was likely that a casino resort could only be opened in that city in 2026, rather than the previously-flagged date of 2025, the latter being the same year the Japanese city hosts an edition of the World Expo.
Several Japanese news outlet reported the comments of the mayor, said to have been made at a briefing that day. The official added that, although the local authorities had hoped for a simultaneous operation of the World Expo and the casino resort – both earmarked for an artificial island called Yumeshima (picture in a file photo) in Osaka Bay – the view on a delay to 2026 for the latter had been arrived at after discussions with “multiple integrated resort companies”.
According to information gathered by GGRAsia’s Japan correspondent, Mayor Matsui reiterated Osaka’s desire to start its request-for-proposal (RFP) phase with potential private-sector partners this month. That would be before the national government has published its so-called basic policy on IRs, a milestone likely in the first quarter 2020 according to some commentators.
On the basis of an RFP starting this month, Osaka city and prefecture are extending the time period for a casino resort opening to “between spring 2025 to autumn 2026″, the official was cited as saying.
Although he noted: “At this moment, the central government has not made clear the selection data [for] up to three IRs. It is difficult to determine the exact data requirement.”
The term integrated resort or “IR” is used in Japan to describe large-scale casino complexes with supporting tourism infrastructure including hotels, meeting space, shops, restaurants and entertainment facilities. A maximum of three will be permitted nationally in a first phase of market liberalisation.
The Osaka authorities announced in late November the names of the three private-sector firms that had remained engaged in its request-for-concept (RFC) process. They were: the consortium involving U.S.-based MGM Resorts International and Japanese financial services group Orix Corp; the Japan unit of Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd; and Genting Singapore Ltd, a unit of Malaysian-based Genting group.
MGM Resorts is the parent of Macau casino operator MGM China Holdings Ltd; Galaxy Entertainment is a Macau casino licensee; and Genting Singapore runs the Resorts World Sentosa gaming complex as part of Singapore’s casino duopoly.
In late November Osaka metropolis said it hoped to choose a private-sector partner for such a project “around June 2020”.
A seven-person committee has been set up by the prefecture and city of Osaka in order to select a private-sector partner for that Japanese metropolis’ tilt at getting a casino resort.
According to our correspondent, when the Osaka authorities announced on November 21 the draft of their IR implementation policy, there was no mention either of an opening date requirement for such a venue or whether a phased opening might be permitted.
(Updated, 11.30am, Dec 16)
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