Wakayama councillors raise concerns about Clairvest’s integrated resort proposal

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

As Japan’s casino liberalisation work continues, one prefecture has raised concerns about its choice of preferred partner.

Inside Asian Gaming reports that Wakayama prefecture councillors met on October 8 as part of its integrated resort bid, with various concerns about the proposed development at Wakayama Marina City raised.

Some attendees noted there were no materials to support the financing of Wakayama’s preferred partner, Clairvest Neem Ventures, provided in commentary from the Integrated Resort Business Selection Committee.

They also noted that two of the company’s representative directors had resigned on 8 June and 25 August respectively, and a new one appointed on 25 August, the same day the prefecture and consortium signed a basic agreement.

Questions were raised about the total number of shares and the composition of the company’s shareholders, whose total number of shares and capital are seen to be increasing, and the prefecture was asked for an explanation and transparency.

The prefecture revealed that it has asked Clairvest to enhance its management systems in anticipation of application to the central government and so the officers had changed on the date of the conclusion of the basic agreement.

The prefecture also responded that the structure of shareholders had been confirmed, but some council members expressed their concerns and criticism of the situation.

When asked about the investment of US casino giant Caesars Entertainment, which was recently revealed as operator of Clairvest’s IR, the prefecture said this was undecided.

However, Caesars chief executive officer Tom Reeg has previously stated that Caesars’ involvement would require no capital commitment.

Wakayama named Clairvest as its preferred partner in June 

In June 2021, Wakayama prefecture selected Clairvest as its partner for construction and operation of an integrated resort facility.

An area development plan will be drafted by November and they will then apply to the central government, who will select a maximum of three integrated resort locations across Japan.

According to published information, Clairvest’s integrated resort concept is based on a theme of “land of wood and a land of water” with nature at its core.

The total floor area would be about 569,000 square metres, of which a casino facility will cover around 38,000 square metres.

Notably, Clairvest has proposed an investment of US$4.3 billion versus U$2.6 billion suggested by Wakayama under its fundamental concept.

Both the scale of the investment and target number of visitors put forward by Clairvest are much larger than Wakayama’s own estimations.

The integrated resort is planned to be built on an artificial island called Wakayama Marina City.

The selection of Clairvest comes after Suncity Group withdrew from the race, citing an uncertain global business environment.

It was recently revealed that Suncity had in fact scored higher than Clairvest based on the selection committee’s initial assessment.

Their absence had sparked suggestions Wakayama may itself withdraw from the Japanese integrated resort race, but after deciding to name Clairvest as its partner, the Governor said: “We can take the next step with confidence. Moreover, we will probably be able to obtain national approval if we improve on the plan.”

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