The authorities in Japan’s Yokohama city (pictured) are to delay by two months the respective timing for two important parts of the metropolis’ effort to get a casino resort. Fumiko Hayashi, the mayor, said at a Wednesday briefing that the city would now announce its integrated resort (IR) implementation policy and its request-for-proposal (RFP) application requirements in August rather than in June, the original time frame, according to GGRAsia’s Japan correspondent.
Public broadcaster NHK and a number of other media outlets cited the city’s government as indicating the reason was the spread in Japan of the Covid-19 infection associated with the novel coronavirus pandemic.
In Japan large-scale casino complexes with tourism and meeting facilities are known as IRs. A maximum of three will be permitted nationally in the first phase of market liberalisation, and any local government wishing to have one will need to find a private-sector partner then apply to the national government for permission.
Ms Hayashi indicated on Wednesday that Yokohama’s adjusted IR timetable was still comfortably within the national authorities’ time frame. 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 still keeping to that application timetable.
Starting on April 8, seven prefectures in Japan – Chiba, Fukuoka, Hyogo, Kanagawa, Osaka, Saitama and Tokyo – entered a month-long state of emergency in relation to Covid-19.
On March 27, Osaka – another contender for a Japanese IR – said the submission deadline of its RFP process had been put back to July, instead of April. Subsequently the mayor, Ichiro Matsui, flagged that the RFP might be put back even further.
While Yokohama was not earmarked for state-of-emergency measures, Japan overall has had more than 7,900 confirmed cases of Covid-19 infection according to data displayed on Thursday morning by the country’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.
Companies previously identified as suitors for a Yokohama IR included Genting Singapore Ltd, operator of Resorts World Sentosa casino complex in Singapore, and Macau operator Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd.
Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd and Wynn Resorts Ltd – two casino groups also with Macau operations – have respectively announced a Yokohama focus in their campaign to win a Japan casino licence.
In late August, U.S.-based Las Vegas Sands Corp – that has Macau casinos under its Sands China Ltd unit and also runs the Marina Bay Sands resort under Singapore’s casino duopoly – said it would focus on Tokyo and Yokohama in its effort to be allowed to build a casino resort in Japan.
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