The government of Japan’s Wakayama prefecture (pictured) told GGRAsia on Friday that it is sticking to the previously-mentioned timeline for its request-for-proposal (RFP) process to choose a private-sector consortium as partner for its tilt to host a casino resort.
That is despite the national government on Thursday extending across the whole country a state of emergency in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We are not considering postponing the deadlines of [the] RFP process,” an official from Wakayama prefecture told GGRAsia in response to our enquiry. “We will proceed with that as scheduled at the moment,” the person added.
The Wakayama government announced in late March the start of its RFP process in its pursuit to an integrated resort (IR), as these schemes are known in Japan.
A maximum of three casino resorts will be permitted in Japan under a first phase of market liberalisation. Any local government wishing to have one will need to find a private-sector partner then apply to the national government for permission.
The Wakayama authorities have scheduled the end of August as the deadline for would-be partners to submit business proposals, with mid-November the target date for selecting such a partner. The local government’s designated site is a 23.61-hectare (58.3-acre) plot on an artificial island known as Marina City.
The prefecture aims to apply next year to the national government – in line with the central authorities’ timetable – for the right to host such a project.
The central government – which has yet to issue the finalised version of its own IR basic policy – has nonetheless stated in its draft document that it will accept IR applications from local governments between January 2021 and July of that year.
On Monday, Kazuyoshi Akaba, Japan’s Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, said the central authorities were for now keeping to that application timetable.
Other regions have already announced the postponement of their preparation timetable to host a casino scheme.
On March 27, Osaka said the submission deadline of its RFP process had been delayed to July, instead of April. Subsequently the mayor, Ichiro Matsui, flagged that the RFP might be put back even further.
On Wednesday the authorities in Japan’s Yokohama city said they were delaying by two months the respective timing for two important parts of the metropolis’ effort to get a casino resort, citing Covid-19 as a factor.
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