Japan Fundamental IR Policy Announcement May be Further Delayed

Japanese government may postpone the release of the national basic policy on integrated resorts, a Monday report in the Sankei Shimbun newspaper claims. The media cites sources linked to the government that the policy will be not be released until August or even further delayed, due to the need to introduce infection-control protocols.

Deadline Not Determined Yet

The general understanding among local governments, analysts and interested parties was that the national basic policy should be announced no later than July 26, 2020, but the government person cited in the report outlined the timing of the announcement is not stipulated in the IR law, implying the release date was yet to be determined.

The push back with a month or more of the announcement of the national IR policy will have implications for local governments which are already in the process of selecting and approving a private-sector partner to support their bid, with the application for one of the three available locations for casino resorts scheduled for the first half of 2021. That part of the application process was already approved by the national government in mid-April.

Government Keeping Tabs on Local Authorities’ Progress

Several months later, in June, there was an announcement by Japan’s Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Kazuyoshi Akaba, who said government was in discussions with prefectural authorities regarding the possibilities for amendments to the licensing timetable.

The Minister outlined national authorities were interested in painting an overall picture of the progress of each prefecture applicant, especially in the context of the health crisis and the limitations it posed on travel and the business in general.

The June discussions were hinted by Osaka’s Mayor Ichiro Matsui, who speculated that the central government was considering extending the period for local governments to apply for the three casino licenses. The Mayor said that during the announcement that Osaka, one of the candidates to host a casino-type resort, will push back with another 6 months the deadline for the prefecture’s request-for-proposal (RFP) regarding the selection of a private sector partner.

The Japan IR project took a significant blow in May, when one of the world’s biggest casino operators, Las Vegas Sands, ditched its intentions, despite previously claiming it would dedicate funds to the extent of $10 billion to develop a modern casino-type resort in either Tokyo or Yokohama. Caesars Entertainment and Wynn Resorts have also withdrawn from participation in the project, leaving serious doubts about the future of the IR idea in the country as a tool to stimulate tourism and the economy.

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