Osaka’s Yumeshima IR Project Suffers Setback after Setback

One of the strong contenders to host an integrated resort-type casino in Japan, Osaka, may have to face delays again, pushing back its request-for-proposal /RFP/ process, this time due to the spread of the coronavirus in the country.

Officials Accepted New Delays

Osaka’s Mayor, Ichiro Matsui, was quoted by the Mainichi newspaper on Monday, raising concerns that the plans of the metropolis may have suffered another setback and officials may need to reset the target opening date for the integrated resort /IR/ due to the ongoing health crisis on a worldwide scale that had already disrupted travelling and tourism.

Initially, it was largely anticipated that the Yumeshima IR, Osaka’s resort-type casino project, would be able to open doors before the 2025 World Expo, but now it turned out time would not be enough, especially with the current delays due to the disruptions caused by the virus outbreak.

In a recent announcement, March 27, Osaka prefecture changed its IR draft implementation policy and requirements for RFP applicants, by pushing back to July the deadline for application submissions, as well as extending the private sector partner selection process that was expected to end in June, to September.

MGM Resorts Will Have to Wait

Even with the new deadline for applications, the chances of having new candidates to partner the local government are slim. In February, after the withdrawal of Genting Group, the only contender to develop the IR casino, if Osaka is granted one of the three slots available, remained a consortium between MGM Resorts International and local financial services company Oryx.

But now, the extension to the deadline for submitting applications may not matter at all. As of April 8, Osaka is one of the seven prefectures for which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared a state of emergency due to the growing cases of the disease caused by the coronavirus. The declared state of emergency will remain in force until May 6.

State of Emergency May Impose Further IR Restrictions

Tokyo, Chiba, Kanagawa, Saitama, Hyogo and Fukuoka completed the list of prefectures where local governments were given extra powers, including urging their residents to refrain from non-essential travelling, as well as movement outside of their place of residence.

The unprecedented state of emergency also authorized prefecture officials to temporarily close schools, social welfare facilities, theatres, music-performance venues and sports stadiums, but Japanese officials were vocal to outline it did not mean lockdown or shutting down of public transport.

Osaka’s revised IR schedule placed for February or March 2021 the approval of the prefectural assembly and the city council, and if an IR license is granted by the national government, Osaka would stipulate that the Yumeshima IR must open before the end of March 2027.

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