Around 400 members of the public as well as media representatives are expected to have attended two days of public consultation on the idea of having a casino venue in the Japanese city of Yokohama (pictured).
The public liaison stage of a recently-launched request-for-information (RFI) phase – about the possibility of having in the metropolis an integrated resort or “IR” as they are known in Japan – ran from Tuesday to Wednesday.
Approximately 180 members of the public and 24 media representatives were at Tuesday’s session, with “antis” among the audience being most vocal. Such people posed all nine questions presented during a question and answer session with officials, according to GGRAsia’s Japan correspondent.
A further 200 members of the community were expected to attend Wednesday’s briefing session with officials.
Yokohama, led by Mayor Fumiko Hayashi, has not yet decided whether to adopt a public policy to pursue a casino venue. Ms Hayashi is one of Japan’s best-known businesswomen, having been previously chief executive of The Daiei Inc, one of the country’s largest supermarket chains.
She is a member of the Democratic Party, which is currently in opposition at national level. Those advocating the general casino policy accepted by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s governing Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner Komeito, have nonetheless sought to make the issue about economic stimulus for inbound tourism and taxation, and one that overrides traditional party boundaries.
A maximum of three resorts will be permitted in a first phase of market liberalisation. The national government has yet to announced its so-called basic policy on IRs. That would include – among other things – the central authorities’ criteria for selecting what places should be allowed to have a casino resort.
The initial findings – announced in late May – of Yokohama’s RFI process, had responses from 12 entities, including leading foreign operators of casinos.
Following the feedback, the local government identified that the capital investment for Yokohama could be as much as JPY1.3 trillion (US$11.9 billion). The lowest figure mentioned was JPY620 billion.
On July 27, English soccer champions Manchester City Football Club and J-League side Yokohama F. Marinos are to play an exhibition match at Yokohama’s Nissan Stadium as part of a soccer tournament sponsored this year by Macau operator Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd, a firm that has expressed interest in a Japan casino licence. An equivalent tournament will be sponsored by the casino firm next year.
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"There’s a huge amount of possibilities out there and in the case of Macau, it seems that some of these issues should be considered or we may lose the epithet of gambling capital of the world"
Macau-based lawyer and senior partner at law firm Rato, Ling, Lei and Cortés