Yokohama cuts integrated resort shortlist to two

By Charlotte Lee Updated
Yokohama casino future hangs in the balance

Yokohama has edged closer to nominating its preferred integrated resort operator, as part of Japan’s casino liberalisation process.

Inside Asian Gaming reports that Genting Singapore and Melco Resorts and Entertainment have passed its qualification screening process to take part in the city’s request to develop an integrated resort.

The candidate operators were named on Yokohama city’s website on Monday, which also revealed Genting Singapore has teamed up with Japan’s Sega Sammy Holdings and Kajima Corporation as part of a powerful consortium.

Sega Sammy is one of the country’s largest pachinko game manufacturers and is a 45 per cent joint venture partner in South Korean integrated resort Paradise City, located in Incheon, alongside Paradise Co.

Melco has partnered with local construction and civil engineering firm Taisei Corporation.

A third submission from Shotoku Corp did not qualify.

News of Genting Singapore and Melco Resorts progressing to the next stage of Yokohama’s request for proposal comes just two weeks after Galaxy Entertainment Group announced that it would not take part.

Las Vegas Sands and Wynn Resorts both withdrew last year.

Yokohama hopes integrated resort can provide boost to jobs and tourism

According to the implementation policy announced by Yokohama city in January of this year, the aim is for Yokohama’s integrated resort to be built to the world’s highest standards with Yamashita Pier, covering around 43 hectares, named as the candidate site.

The city officially announced its integrated resort bid in August 2019 and by December 2019 had started a request for concept, with seven major operators participating.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic and concerns over substantial development costs, combined with extremely strict regulations, appears to have dampened the mood for many.

A city representative said that Yokohama was grateful to receive its two applications from Genting Singapore and Melco and that they were still seeking the highest standards as per their implementation policy.

Yokohama will now accept proposal documents until 11 June, after which time the city will begin the process of selecting its operator partner.

The city will draft an area development plan with its selected operator to submit to the central government by April 2022.

The central government can approve plans for a maximum of three locations in the country and Yokohama will be competing with Osaka prefecture/city, as well as Wakayama and Nagasaki prefectures.

However, it is unlikely that the process for a Yokohama integrated resort will be a smooth one.

Resident groups opposing the bid are launching petition campaigns and those with interests in Yamashita Wharf have also raised their opposition to an integrated resort, rallying behind mayoral candidates who will oppose an integrated resort in the upcoming election scheduled for August of this year.

The business community itself remains enthusiastic with an economic group of Naka Ward, where the candidate site is located commenting, “An integrated resort would be an important profit base, connecting Yokohama to the future. We hope that we can support this as a local area without getting emotional.”

The opening target is set for the latter half of the 2020s.

The city of Yokohama hopes to use its integrated resort bid as a catalyst for promoting employment and revitalising the city’s tourism industries which have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, which has limited international and domestic tourism.

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