City of Yokohama Holds IR Talks Part of RFI Phase

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  • Yokohama suggested as cheaper IR destinations
  • The city mayor backs the idea
  • Strong local opposition persists

The Japanese City of Yokohama is one of the newest destinations where a casino resort may be built in the country.

Yokohama Explores IR Prospects

Japan continues to study and explore options for the upcoming Integrated Resort (IR) initiative that will see the country host a number of gaming hubs on its territory. Estimated 400 people gathered in the City of Yokohama with members of the press and industry leaders in attendance.

This was part of the Request-for-Information (RFI) phase, which is designed to help the public and lawmakers make a decision as to where the new Integrated Resort should be built and what the implications are.

The meetings were held from Tuesday to Wednesday and they reunited both people who were in favor of introducing an IR project and those who were against it. Fumiko Hayashi, Mayor of Yokohama, has been pushing for more public support before deciding in favor of a casino project.

Ms. Hayashi is a successful business woman and entrepreneur in Japan, which gives her clout both as a politician and a skilled investor. She served as CEO of The Daiei Inc, one of the largest supermarket chains in Japan.

Despite her political affinity with the opposition, Ms. Hayashi has seen enough reasons to support the Integrated Resort plan proposed by the ruling party of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The plan envisages three resort properties to be opened on the territory of the country, hence Yokohama is exploring prospects to be one of the said venues.

Yokohama Has a Slight Advantage

Yokohama has not only the business mettle of its mayor to rely on. The city is also given s one of the cheapest destinations for building the resort. The initial investment estimate is $12 billion, which is low by the standards of the project.

Yet other prefectures have been more vociferous, including Osaka which is shaping up as the host of the first multi-billion venue.

The window in which decisions should be made is narrowing down quickly. While Osaka is still the favorite, an internal strife between competing destinations could introduce delays that are unwelcome for the well-being of the project. Japan wants to conclude construction work by 2025, on time for the World Expo.

The project has been called a “calculated risk” by observers, mostly because the project will be going up against other regional gaming hubs.

Unlike Macau, though, Japan is probably going to market itself as a well-rounded gaming destination in Asia, similar to Las Vegas. The high-rollers and VIP segments will still be very much important, but not essential for the existence of the resort.

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