Nagasaki looking to widen casino bidding process

By William Brown Updated
Japan lists nine casino games for future casinos

A Japanese prefecture is looking to boost the number of contenders for its upcoming casino process.

GGR Asia reports that authorities in Japan’s Nagasaki prefecture are communicating with casino operators not previously in the direct orbit of the metropolis.

“We cannot comment about where the operators are from, but Nagasaki prefecture is open to continuing discussions with interested operators from Japan and overseas until we begin our public tender,” the official said.

In Japan, three integrated resorts will be permitted nationally in a first phase of market liberalisation.

On Thursday, the Nagasaki Shimbun newspaper had reported comments by Nagasaki’s IR promotion division director Takeshi Komiya, hinting at fresh private-sector interest to add to three long-standing contenders and one more recent suitor.

“There is a possibility that other operators may also take part in the public tender,” he said.

“We are continuing to communicate with operators in order to have as many applications as we can,” Mr Komiya was quoted as saying.

Three contenders that declared interest prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and recently respectively reaffirmed it, are Japan’s Current Corp; a Japan unit of Casinos Austria International Holdings GmbH; and Hong Kong-listed Oshidori International Holdings.

Tokyo-listed Pixel Company said in November that the consortium it leads would focus on Nagasaki in its pursuit of a Japan casino licence.

Nagasaki prefecture intends to start, in January 2021, the RFP process.

At some point between summer and autumn next year, the Nagasaki authorities hope to have selected a partner for an integrated resort scheme.

That timetable is in order to be able to submit a proposal to the national government in spring, 2022.

A piece of land at the Huis Ten Bosch theme park in Sasebo, within Nagasaki prefecture, has been earmarked for an integrated resort, should Japan’s central government approve one for Nagasaki.

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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