Yokohama’s mayor says the Japanese city (pictured) will delay for an unspecified period revealing its local implementation policy for a tilt at a casino complex.
By implication that would also be likely to lead to a postponement of the city’s request-for-proposal (RFP) process with potential private-sector partners for such a scheme, commonly known in Japan as “integrated resorts” (IR).
The authorities in Yokohama had flagged August as the month they had hoped to announce their IR implementation policy and the city’s RFP application requirements.
Mayor Fumiko Hayashi said on Wednesday that the reason for the delay in issuing the local implementation policy was the fact the national government had not yet issued its own basic policy on IRs.
Some commentators have suggested one reason for delay at national-policy level is the need to take into account the existence of Covid-19 and how that might affect the safe operation of large-scale tourism complexes.
In early August, Toshihide Hirahara, a deputy mayor of Yokohama, publicly raised the issue of whether financial forecasts made for IRs before the pandemic, remained applicable now.
On August 7, the nation’s Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Kazuyoshi Akaba, said the Japanese government was reviewing the possibility of introducing changes to its timetable for licensing casino resorts in the country, citing Covid-19 as a factor.
On Wednesday, Mayor Hayashi stated: “The city cannot make public its IR implementation policy, under conditions where the [national] government does not announce the basic policy.” That is according to information collated by GGRAsia’s Japan correspondent.
“The city decided to postpone the announcement timing of the implementation policy scheduled for August,” added Yokohama’s mayor.
“The city will keep watching carefully the [national] government initiatives. At this moment, the city has no knowledge about when the [national] government will announce the basic policy,” she further noted.
But she emphasised there was “no change” in Yokohama’s policy of “trying to have an IR”.
The mayor had flagged at a regular media briefing on July 29, that “if the [national] government does not determine IR foundation policy in early August, the city could not finalise and announce its IR implementation policy in August”.
Up to three casino resorts will be permitted in Japan under the country’s first phase of liberalisation. Interested local authorities must first choose a private-sector partner, then apply to the national government for the right to host one.
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