Wakayama is one of the Japanese prefectures vying for one of the three available host locations for the casino integrated resort project and the latest news coming out from local officials is that they are negotiating with a number of new private sector companies.
More Private Companies Thrown In The IR Partner Mix
In response to an enquiry by the media outlet GGRAsia, a representative of the Wakayama prefecture explained that the local government was in the process of negotiations with unnamed operators and so far there was no clear indication whether they will actually participate in the ongoing request-for-proposal /RFP/ process.
The integrated resort /IR/ project in Japan seeks to build up to three resort-type casinos and, despite the controversy it created so far, with arrests of political officials on suspicion of bribery and the opposition raising its voice to abolish the law, the Japanese government continued with its effort for completion.
Casino gambling in Japan was legalized in 2016, but casinos were allowed only as part of a larger resort-type complex, and host candidates, as per the IR law, need a private sector partner in order to participate in the host selection process, with the actual application process taking place during the first seven months of 2021.
New Candidates Face Serious Competition
The government in Wakayama is targeting a late March – early April as a start date for the selection process for its private sector partner regarding the prefecture’s IR effort, but some of the names of the potential candidates already circulate the news, as they presented their concepts in a government-organized symposium in August 2019.
These include the residential and commercial properties developer and provider of hotel and integrated resort management and consultancy services company, Suncity Group Holdings, famous with its strong position in Macau, the French-based hospitality and gaming operator Groupe Lucien Barrière, famous with its luxury hotels, restaurants, spa and well-being centres, and the casino investor and developer of tourist facilities, hotel and amusement-themed projects company from the Philippines, Bloomberry Resorts Corporation.
Wakayama Government Has Specific Criteria
The prefecture’s draft policy released in February 2019 stated that a unique property significantly different from the other two integrated resorts should be built by its private sector partner, to be able to leverage on Wakayama’s existing attractions for tourists, such as landmarks, historic sites, hot springs, and even food culture.
Though there is no clarity on where the integrated casino will be built, previously hinted artificial island, Marina City, approximately 40 kilometers from Kansai International Airport in Osaka Bay, may host the complex.
Prefecture officials also revealed a certain gambling mitigation measure they have in mind, the “IR card”, issued to Japanese nationals, and allowing them to place wagers only through the card which in turn needs to be pre-loaded with cash, requiring setting of gambling limits and helping keeping track of gambling addiction behaviours.