Yokohama city mayor has expressed skepticism whether it should be residents deciding on the implementation of a casino resort, citing City Council’s efforts over the last months as the reason why.
Referendum Expensive and Unnecessary, Says Hayashi
Yokohama city mayor Fumiko Hayashi is not too convinced that a referendum on the development of an integrated resort (IR), Japan’s upcoming casino resort projects billed as the best investment in the gambling industry worldwide, is a good idea.
Even though the Yokohama Citizens’ Group to Decide on a Casino has garnered over 200,000 signatures against a casino resort, the mayor remains skeptical about whether it should be citizens deciding on that specific matter that has economic as well as societal consequences.
The referendum draft ordinance will be submitted to city council on Thursday, January 7, as the country prepares to begin construction of its first casino resort, pending governmental approval and finalization of the selection process which should give one prefecture the right to develop the first of three upcoming projects.
Hayashi has acquiesced to a referendum on IR development in the past, but her most recent opposition may throw a spanner in the works. She noted that running a referendum based on an ordinance would be expensive and is not legally binding.
Important to Retain Progress
According to her, setting up a referendum would mean undoing the progress that has been achieved by City Council, and to her, it was important to continue with what she described as legal procedures instead.
City Council has been keen to proceed with a bidding process and despite a loss of interest from overseas investors and casino companies, integrated resorts in Japan are still considered the best investment of any upcoming similar projects.
Japan is planning to attract a crowd of foreigners keen on experiencing quality gaming opportunities and offering tax breaks on anyone who is not a permanent resident, by allowing them to take any winnings home with them.
Despite the slowdown in coming up with a national framework outlining all binding conditions for the development of an integrated resort, and the government will continue to play a key communication role between local prefectures bidding for a project and overseas investors.