Yokohama to accept casino bids from late January 

By Charlotte Lee Updated
Japan lists nine casino games for future casinos

A date has been set by Yokohama authorities for when the prefecture will begin accepting proposals for a potential casino.

Asgam reports the request for proposal process will launch by the end of January, following a decision by the city council to reject calls to hold a referendum on its integrated resort ambitions.

The ordinance proposal was rejected by a majority made up of the Liberal Democratic Party and the Komeito.

The city is now expected to accelerate its integrated resort procedures and according to sources close to the matter, begin the process of recruiting an operator by the last week of January.

Five companies – Melco Resorts and Entertainment, Galaxy Entertainment Group, Genting Singapore, Sega Sammy Holdings and SHOTOKU – have previously expressed interest in being part of the Yokohama project.

US casino giant Las Vegas Sands pulled out of Japan last May, while Wynn Resorts closed its Yokohama office in 2020, to focus on existing US and Macau operations.

Once Yokohama’s RFP is underway, a selection committee will review the business proposals submitted by operators, with the final decision resting with the city.

Osaka prefecture and city, Wakayama prefecture and Nagasaki prefecture have also shown interest in an integrated resort bid, but Yokohama has received the strongest opposition.

Located in a wide metropolitan area, it is considered to have the greatest potential of the four current locations but opposition was perhaps inevitable considering Japana’s uncertain future in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

This could prove difficult to navigate for Mayor Fumiko Hayashi as she faces the Yokohama mayoral elections on August 29.

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 reported in January that a 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.

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