Japan’s Wakayama prefecture announced on Thursday (February 20) the local government’s “draft integrated resort (IR) implementation policy”. A consultation period with “interested parties” will run until early March, according to information confirmed to GGRAsia.
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.
Wakayama’s draft IR policy outlines what facilities it expects private-sector partners to provide. The shopping list includes a wish to see a casino resort distinctive from anything offered in other Japanese regions. It also stated that the casino floor area could not exceed 3 percent of the total area of the proposed IR.
The Wakayama prefectural government told GGRAsia on Thursday that its IR implementation policy was aimed at promoting the development of a casino complex that drew on the prefecture’s existing tourism attractions, including natural landmarks, historic sites, availability of hot springs, and its unique food culture.
The document also sets out the selection criteria for choosing a private-sector partner for the IR scheme. The prefecture told us additionally that it aimed to launch in “late March or the beginning of April” a request-for-proposal (RFP) process to choose a private-sector partner.
In Thursday’s announcement of the draft IR policy, the Wakayama prefectural government said it had begun accepting questions from would-be casino operators. The consultation period on the local basic policy would run until March 3, it said.
Japanese local governments that meet the basic national government requirement for bidding for a casino resort – namely being either a prefecture-level authority or so-called ordinance-level city – need first to find a private-sector partner or consortium of partners, then apply to Japan’s national authorities for permission to develop an IR.
The Wakayama authorities have previously said an artificial island called Marina City – within the prefecture’s capital city, Wakayama City (pictured) – had been earmarked for the IR bid. Marina City is approximately 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the major regional air hub, Kansai International Airport.
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