Clairvest pulls out of Wakayama as deal turns sour

By Charlotte Lee Updated
Wakayama governor speaks out after integrated resort withdrawal

It’s bad news for one Japanese prefecture, as its preferred casino partner has withdrawn from the process.

Inside Asian Gaming reports Canadian investment group Clairvest Neem Ventures, which was chosen by Wakayama Prefecture as its preferred partner to develop one of Japan’s first integrated resorts, has confirmed the suspension of activities related to IR area development certification.

However, the company said it will continue to explore IR development opportunities in Japan in the future, suggesting it would try again should the central government explore a second round of IR development in the coming years.

It is expected that Wakayama would refrain from submitting an IR bid after the prefectural assembly voted against the prefecture’s area development plan, primarily due to a lack of transparency around funding.

Prefectural assembly votes down Clairvest’s plan

In confirming its withdrawal from the national bidding process, which saw Osaka and Nagasaki submit their bids this week, Clairvest said it had compiled an area development plan that was “not inferior to any part of the world.”

It also refuted suggestions that the financial plan put together by the IR consortium, which also included Caesars Entertainment and multiple local minority investors, was unclear.

“We had signed a basic agreement for investment with 16 companies in total, including domestic companies and two domestic financial institutions,” Clairvest said.

“By concluding a basic agreement on financing with 10 companies in total, the planned amount of financing is more than US$4.2 billion.”

Clairvest said it had obtained official documentation in partnership with global investment bank Credit Suisse including a detailed breakdown of the overall funding plan but had opted to keep these details confidential pending government approval.

“From the above, we were convinced that the certainty of financing for the realisation of Wakayama integrated resort was 100 per cent, but maybe because of our lack of explanation we were unable to achieve the understanding of the prefectural assembly.”

Clairvest said it would temporarily close its Wakayama office but would maintain its office in Tokyo to “continue to seek development opportunities in Japan.

“Even today, when this decision has been made, the potential of various social and human resources in Wakayama is the greatest attraction of this city, and its utilisation will contribute to the development of the Japanese economy,” Clairvest said.

Japanese lawmaker sentenced for casino proposal bribery

A Japanese lawmaker has found himself in hot water for taking bribes over the Hokkaido integrated resort proposal.

Lawmaker Tsukasa Akimoto has been given a prison sentence after being found guilty of receiving bribes over a previously proposed casino scheme in the prefecture.

The Tokyo District Court sentenced Mr Akimoto, a member of the lower house in Japan’s parliament, to four years in prison, without suspension, and a fine of US$68,300, according to local media.

Japan’s public prosecution had asked for the lawmaker to be slapped with a five-year prison term.

Mr Akimoto was found guilty of receiving bribes worth 7.5 million Japanese yen from Masahiko Konno and Katsunori Nakazato, described as advisors for Chinese firm

The latter was one of a number of companies interested in bidding for a licence for a gaming complex scheme in Hokkaido.

A total of three casino resorts, referred to in Japan as integrated resorts, are to be permitted across Japan in a first phase of liberalisation.

Mr Akimoto had reportedly served as a vice minister in charge of promoting the establishment of casinos in the country.

In October 2020, the Tokyo District Court found Mr Konno and Mr Nakazato guilty of bribing Mr Akimoto and sentenced them to suspended prison sentences.

The judge in that process, Toshihiko Niwa said the pair were given information relevant to the casino liberalisation process, “as a result of extravagant wining and dining” of Mr Akimoto, a former member of Japan’s governing Liberal Democratic Party.

The governor of Hokkaido decided in November 2019, prior to news breaking regarding the bribery allegations, not to propose the prefecture as a candidate site in an initial phase of casino liberalisation in the country.

Back to top