The incumbent governor of Japan’s Wakayama prefecture, Yoshinobu Nisaka (pictured), who advocates a casino resort on his patch, secured on Sunday by a large majority a fourth consecutive term in office.
His sole opponent – Masayoshi Hatanaka, backed by the Japanese Communist Party – had stressed his opposition to hosting locally a so-called integrated resort, citing concerns about gambling addiction issues, according to local media reports and information gathered by GGRAsia.
The victorious Mr Nisaka had stated during his re-election campaign that having a Wakayama resort would spur local tourism and revitalise the economy, reported the Kyodo news agency.
Mr Nisaka garnered his victory with the help of the nationally-governing Liberal Democratic Party and the latter’s junior coalition partner Komeito; as well as factions currently in opposition at national level, namely the Democratic Party for the People and the Social Democratic Party.
Out of the 307,367 votes cast for the Wakayama governor election, 246,303 were in support of Mr Nisaka, with only 61,064 for Mr Hatanaka, according to our correspondent in Japan.
After declaring victory following Sunday’s poll, Mr Nisaka was cited by media reports as saying that he would work to explain “the positive sides” of hosting a casino resort in the prefecture, adding that the potential “negative effects” of having such a venue were preventable.
The Integrated Resort Implementation Act, passed in July by the national government, allows for only three resorts nationally in a first phase of market liberalisation. Several cities and prefectures in Japan have indicated interest in contending for hosting a casino resort.
Hokkaido prefecture, Chiba City, Tokyo, and Yokohama City, respectively have said the idea of hosting a casino locally is under consideration, according to a poll compiled by the Office of Integrated Resort Regime Promotion. Osaka City, Wakayama prefecture and Nagasaki prefecture said respectively they would “try to host an IR”. Nonetheless the governor and mayor of Wakayama are said to be at odds on whether Japanese citizens should be allowed to use any such facility in their area.
At a conference in Tokyo in May, Mr Nisaka had said a 40-hectare (98.8-acre) artificial island called Marina City, had been earmarked for a Wakayama resort.
The resort would likely have 2,500 hotel rooms, and meeting space covering 50,000 square metres (538,200 sq feet). A budget for the resort was indicated as circa JPY280 billion (US$2.6 billion) with a projected payback period of 8.7 years, according to the official’s presentation. Marina City is approximately 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the major regional air hub, Kansai International Airport.
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”Our own consensus is that any newcomers to this [junket] sector should be corporatised, and should be financially sound and able to commit a higher guarantee deposit”
Kwok Chi Chung
President of junket trade body, the Macau Association of Gaming and Entertainment Promoters