Osaka firms up casino bid process

By Mia Chapman Updated
Japan lists nine casino games for future casinos

Osaka will consider submissions for hosts for its integrated resort until April 6.

GGR Asia reports that Osaka has targeted July as a deadline for any further responses by private entities to its request-for-proposal process, according to recently released information.

The prefectural government also announced the finalised version of the local implementation policy for an integrated resort scheme, as large-scale tourism complex with casino, meeting facilities, shops and hotels.

The finalised policy, announced last Friday, was the same as the draft released by the government on February 12.

It therefore includes some relaxation on the requirements regarding spaces for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions and for hotel accommodation, with the selected integrated resort operator permitted to make gradual expansion of these components.

United States-based casino operator Melco Resorts International and its local partner Orix have been the sole qualified consortium so far in Osaka, as part of the city and prefecture’s joint plan.

Up to three casino resorts will be allowed in Japan, under the current market liberalisation framework.

Selection of a partner for the metropolis is due in September, according to the latest timetable mentioned.

Osaka will submit its integrated resort development plan to Japan’s national government in April 2022.

If Osaka were eventually approved to host an integrated resort scheme, the project opening would likely take place “in the latter half” of 2020s.

Online gambling not part of Japan’s new casino laws 

A Japanese government official has denied suggestions that the country’s recent casino liberalisation legislation could mean online gambling will soon be legalised.

European Gaming reports that chairperson of the Liberal Democratic Party’s National Safety Commission Hachiro Okonogi said instead, the country will be cracking down harder on any such illegal activity.

The question of online gambling was raised by the Constitutional Democratic Party, who asked if there had been any change to the regulation of online gambling in Japan, given an increase in the use of offshore gaming sites since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

In response, Okonogi said, “There are provisions on casino acts in the existing IR Development Act, but it does not include online casinos and they are not subject to this regulation.

However, when I was asked at the Cabinet Committee last week, I answered that we would continue to take strict action as the police and chairperson of the National Public Safety Commission.”

Asked if further regulation was necessary, Okongi added: “The reason online casinos are not subject to the ‘casino acts’ in the IR Development Act is because online casinos are illegal in the first place.

“There is precedent of online casinos being run in Japan, busted and tried in court.”

Okonogi emphasised that crackdowns would continue and explained, “continuing to come down on online casinos is the role of the police and Chairperson of the National Public Safety Commission. The fact is that this does not fall under the jurisdiction of the IR Development Act or the minister in charge of the Casino Management Committee.”

Wakayama throws its hat into Japanese casino ring

A Japanese prefecture is considering lodging an integrated resort bid, but said it must focus on wellness and nature. reported in January that Wakayama lawmakers want their integrated resort to embody a healing apparatus.

In explaining the specifics of its integrated resort and what features interested bidders would be smart to include, Wakayama officials want the development to incorporate natural elements of the city.

Wakayama’s integrated resort implementation policy urges casino consortiums to prepare bids to implement the waterfront, hot springs and local culture into the resort plans.

“Nature-based activity tourism is a leading trend in tourism globally,” Wakayama’s Fundamental Concept of integrated resort policy declares.

“Wakayama has great potential as a tourist destination with its wide variety of recreation, blessed with a long coastline, deep mountains and many rivers, almost every kind of experience-type tourism is possible,” the request-for-proposal explains.

Wakayama is a small prefecture and city and its population has been declining for a quarter of a century.

Since 2010, Wakayama has been the only prefecture in the Kansai region with fewer than one million residents.

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