The government of Japan’s Wakayama prefecture announced on Monday the start of its request-for-proposal (RFP) process to choose a private-sector consortium as partner for its tilt to host a casino resort.
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. Wakayama hopes that – if approved by the national government – its project could be ready for commercial launch in the spring of 2025.
Wakayama (pictured) has 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.
In comments to GGRAsia, the Wakayama prefectural government noted it was confident of complying with the application timetable set by the national government. It runs from early January 2021 to July 31 of that year. There has been no sign so far of that being revised, notwithstanding the global public health alert over the novel coronavirus pandemic.
According to a Monday report by the Kyodo news agency – citing government sources – Japan is planning to place an entry ban on foreigners who have recently been to the United States, China, South Korea and most of Europe, in an effort to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.
The Wakayama prefectural government confirmed to GGRAsia that it aimed to see the launch of its casino resort scheme “before the opening of the Osaka/Kansai [World] Expo” in 2025, should the prefecture be granted the right to host such a project.
Up to three casino resorts – or known as integrated resorts (IR) in Japan’s context – will be allowed in the country’s first phase of liberalisation of gaming rights.
In its Monday announcement on the RFP process, Wakayama said would-be IR operators should develop their resort scheme based on the concept of “sports and wellness” by integrating it with Wakayama’s own tourism resources. The prefectural government also requires the interested private-sector partner to ensure their resort scheme build can be resilient to the impact of natural disasters, such as earthquakes and tsunamis. Japan experiences both those natural phenomena.
All private-sector suitors for Wakayama’s IR scheme are required to adopt the local government’s harm-mitigation initiative in relation to compulsive gambling. The “IR card” is specifically aimed at Japanese that might wish to gamble at the casino resort, according to the announcement. Local patrons would need to load the IR card with a cash value and set a maximum amount for their respective betting budget.
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International Monetary Fund