Yokohama committee opposed to casino referendum 

By Ethan Anderson Updated
Yokohama committee opposed to casino referendum 

Yokohama’s pursuit for one of Japan’s three casino licences is hotting up as a city council committee has flagged opposition to a community referendum on whether the metropolis should pursue a casino resort.

GGR Asia reports that last Thursday’s meeting of a committee tasked with Yokohama’s general affairs and finance, which includes 10 members, all voted against the draft ordinance for a referendum regarding an integrated resort.

It had been reported that several anti-casino community campaigns had by November managed to collect more than 205,000 signatures, about six per cent of Yokohama’s 3.72 million population, seeking such a local poll on the integrated resort topic.

The tally of names was said to greatly exceed the number required to trigger a move for such a poll.

The Yokohama city council constitutes 86 seats, with the Liberal Democratic Party currently holding 36 seats.

Up to three casino resorts will be permitted in Japan in a first phase of market liberalisation.

A December 18 announcement by the country’s government, the same day it confirmed the national basic policy on integrated resorts, reiterated the central authorities would start accepting local government submissions for the right to host a resort from October 1, 2021, with a closing date of April 28, 2022.

The adjustments to the Japanese tax system when casinos grace the country has been explained by the Japanese tax commission.

Inside Asian Gaming reported in December that tax commission chairman AkiraAmari said the government’s tax system will be adjusted so that “winnings” earned in an integrated resort’s casino would be tax exempt for foreign visitors to Japan.

“It should be fine to employ the method of tax exemption based on international standards,” Amari said.

“If no one comes to an IR we develop then it will all be pointless.

“We need to keep with international norms.”

It is expected this direction will be reflected in the ruling party’s tax reform outline due on December 10.

There had previously been a proposal from the Ministry of Finance to tax casino winnings, a concept that was met with dismay by potential investors.

Under the revised plan, Japanese locals would be taxed in a similar way to other public sports and horseracing, where income tax is taken if winnings exceed a certain amount.

Japanese integrated resort process to accept bids from next year

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

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.

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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