Japanese government to communicate directly with casino complexes ahead of casino liberalisation 

By Noah Taylor Updated
Small Japanese city throws its hat into integrated resort bid

The Japanese government has updated its integrated resort policy, saying it would have a direct role in communicating with companies concerning the country’s push to have casino complexes.

GGR Asia reports that such liaison would be done via the central authorities’ integrated resort promotion headquarters.

Additionally, the country confirmed the national basic policy on integrated resorts, which was mostly the same as the draft made public last October.

A key update was the confirmation of the period in which the national government will be accepting integrated resort plans from local governments.

It will be between October 1, 2021 and April 28, 2022, a nine-month delay from a previously announced timetable.

The national government assumes the timing of integrated resort opening to be the late 2020s, taking into account the time needed for environmental assessment and construction.

Up to three such venues will be permitted in a first phase of liberalisation.

The Japan Tourism Agency created the draft and its acceptance at a meeting on Friday marks the official start of Japan’s integrated resort realisation process.

The agency is part of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.

A number of international firms that already operate casinos resorts in other markets have recently pulled out of the race to build a casino resort in Japan.

They have cited factors including concerns about development costs, the possible scope of restrictive regulation and delays in local and national decision making, amid the disruption of the coronavirus pandemic.

The latter has led to a sharp decline in core-market business for many foreign operators.

Banking group Nomura suggested in a recent memo that the mention of casino resort taxation topics in the latest tax reform proposals of Japan’s governing coalition showed its commitment to the casino liberalisation policy in the country.

“The tax proposals related to integrated resorts are for the financial year 2022, not financial year 2021,” the institution noted.


Japanese integrated resort process to accept bids from next year

Japan’s long awaited integrated resort process will be accepting proposals from October next year.

GGR Asia reported in October that an announcement was made by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, which said the proposed closing date for such submissions to local governments would be April 28, 2022.

That is a delay of at least nine months in the process to introduce casino resorts in Japan, a decision justified by the government with delays related to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

A total of three casino resorts will be permitted nationally in a first phase of liberalisation.

The policy has been presented as a form of stimulus for regional economies, in terms of drawing in tourists from overseas.

On Friday, the Japanese national authorities also published a revised draft of its integrated resort basic policy; a first version had been presented last year.

The revised draft adds guidelines related to infectious disease countermeasures inside casino resorts.

The document also introduces rules on exchanges between private casino operators and government officials.

According to the government, there will be a period of public consultation on the revised draft policy, running until November 7.

It had previously been mentioned in commentary by the central authorities that local governments, with a selected private-sector partner, would be expected to apply in the last half of 2021, to the national government for the right to host a casino resort.

A sticking point however was that the national policy development had not yet been published, making it hard for suitors to be sure of the ground rules for bids.

A number of local governments had been racing to set up or complete processes for choosing a private-sector casino operator, but some authorities have announced in recent months delays to such procedures.

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