August 26, 2019 3 min read


Number of Cities for Japanese IR Continues to Grow

  • Japanese IR is drawing closer to its release date
  • The number of bidding cities to host the project grows
  • Applications reportedly to be accepted as early as March, 2020

Galaxy Entertainment’s Francis Lui Yiu Tung has welcomed the high demand for hosting rights of the future Japanese Integrated Resort project.

Demands for Hosts of Japanese IR a Good Sign

Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd’s Francis Lui Yiu Tung has become the latest executive to comment on the bidding process for a future Japanese Integrated Resort (IR). According to Mr. Lui, the large number of cities trying to secure the project is a positive sign that Japan is well-poised to be the next big gaming market in Asia.

Based on Mr. Lui’s words, Galaxy Entertainment feels more confident about entering the country with so many cities pushing for hosting privileges. As to the number of overseas operators now looking to enter Japan, Mr. Lui explained that competition was always good for business as it secured ideal conditions for developing a state-of-the-art IR.

The latest city to join the race has been Yokohama, the country’s second-largest metropolis in terms of population. Yokohoma’s mayor said that the city would seek to secure a position in the bidding race last week.

Specifically, Galaxy Entertainment is interested in what way the industry will head moving forward, and Mr. Lui said that the company was using all connections on the ground to study the opportunity to enter and build an integrated resort of global importance in Japan.

The IR project coming to Japan by 2025 will feature a number of grandiose projects, including hotels, conferences, shops, and other facilities that are commonly associated with integrated resorts.

Applying for an IR License

Any city that is interested in securing the bid would need to find private partners willing to invest and develop the facility. Once an agreement is struck, a host city to be would need to apply to the national government for additional vetting and approval.

However, no application to the central government is possible at the moment, with Japan yet to publish its IR basic policy. In July, 2018, the government of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe passed the so-called IR Implementation Act that established the legal processes that bind the entire process.

The policy is reportedly coming by March, 2020, local media Sankei Shimbun wrote, refusing to disclose its sources. Overall, three permits will be issued in the first stage of development, with the leaders at the moment being Osaka, Wakayama and Nagasaki.

Many Moving Pieces for a Japan IR

Meanwhile, a number of companies have stated their appetites for Japan. Las Vegas Sands Copr, a US company is among those. According to a recent press release, the gaming giant would no longer seek to secure a position in Osaka.

Instead, the company will focus entirely on Tokyo and Yokohama looking for a foothold in these two specific metropolises. Based on analysts forecasts, Yokohama and Osaka might eventually generate estimated $8 billion per year together.

There are many moving pieces in the background and the following months will hopefully help establish which companies are entering which markets.


Simon is a freelance writer who specializes in gambling news and has been an author in the poker/casino scene for 10+ years. He brings valuable knowledge to the team and a different perspective, especially as a casual casino player.

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