Japanese integrated resort process to accept bids from next year

By William Brown Updated
Wakayama provides clarity on financial investors in integrated resort

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

GGR Asia reports 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.

Nagasaki pauses its integrated resort plans

A Japanese prefecture has halted its request for a proposal process to host a casino resort. 

GGR Asia reported in September that Nagasaki’s proposal has been postponed indefinitely.

The prefectural government noted it would decide later, an “appropriate time” for launching the RFP process, but said preparation work for launching the RFP process, but said preparation work would still go on for an integrated resort.

A Monday announcement mentioned the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated travel restrictions as reasons for halting the process.

There was no mention of the resignation on Friday as prime minister of Shinzo Abe, whose government had steered the casino liberalisation policy.

Nagasaki is the latest in a number of local authority suitors for a casino complex, or integrated resort as they are known in Japan, to announce a pause on their casino ambitions.

Yokohama and Osaka did so even before Mr Abe stepped down.

Nagasaki had previously indicated the RFP process could be launched before the Japanese summer ended, but it now says casino resort operators, the sort of entities that could eventually become a private-sector partner for the prefecture – had suggested the postponement.

Such operators reportedly cited the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and travel restrictions that limit their opportunities for on-site visits in Japan.

Land at the Huis Ten Bosch theme park in Sasebo City has been earmarked by Nagasaki as the site of an integrated resort project.

Three companies had previously confirmed to GGR Asia their respective intention to participate in Nagasaki’s RFP process.

They were: Japan’s Current Corp; a Japan unit of Casinos Austria International Holding GmbH; and Hong Kong-listed Oshidori International Holdings.

Osaka prefecture and city, confirmed last week a pause for its casino RFP.

Subsequently on Friday, the mayor of Osaka and the governor of Osaka prefecture respectively suggested that provided Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party stays at the centre of national government, then the resignation of Shinzo Abe last Friday as the country’s prime minister, should not derail Japan’s introduction of casinos.

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