Japan’s Wakayama prefecture does not need to “give away” the chance to have a casino complex, despite the rejection on April 20 by the prefectural assembly of a tabled plan for an integrated resort (IR).
That is according to Tuesday comments by the prefecture’s governor, Yoshinobu Nisaka, in his regular briefing for the media.
“The prefecture should take a second chance to apply to the [national] government,” stated Mr Nisaka, according to information collated by GGRAsia’s Japan correspondent.
“The prefectural assembly voted against the plan. But most of them are in favour of IR and just against the plan and the group behind it,” added the governor.
In the run-up to April 20’s vote, local political representatives repeatedly expressed concern about lack of clarity on fundraising for the JPY470-billion (US$3.7-billion) scheme proposed by Wakayama’s chosen private-sector partner, Clairvest Neem Ventures KK.
Mr Nisaka further commented, referring to prefectural assembly members: “Some of them say that there is a possibility of the prefecture doing IR again in a better way. If it is good [done well], the prefecture should” take the opportunity.
In a statement on the day of the vote, the prefectural governor had said that a benefit of not applying this time, was in order not to “lose the opportunity to try again”.
Though in comments to the media that day, he had said the knockback by the prefectural assembly had been a “bitter blow” after years of work.
Up to three casino resorts can be permitted nationally under Japan’s existing liberalisation programme.
Osaka and Nagasaki are currently the only two Japanese prefectures left in the Japan IR race, having submitted on Tuesday to the national government their respective IR District Development Plan ahead of Thursday (April 28) deadline for such submissions.
GGRAsia’s correspondent says there is speculation in Japan that – because the quota of resorts permitted under the liberalisation programme exceeds the current number of applicant prefectures – a fresh round of applications might be opened soon.
Industry commentators told GGRAsia in August that Japan’s national government might even decide not to grant a licence to any of the applicants in the current round, which could leave a number of licence opportunities up for consideration under a different timeline and scenario.
Industry expectations are that a final decision on the current applications could be made in the autumn of this year. According to the rules, the existing applicants will each undergo two rounds of assessment by the national authorities.
The first Japanese casino resorts are likely to launch only in the latter half of this decade, according to previous commentary made by local governments.
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