Yokohoma Continues with IR Bid Despite Coronavirus Emergency

Japan’s Yokohoma prefecture will continue with its IR bidding process despite a state of emergency issued by the central government last week. According to Yokohoma mayor Fumiko Hayashi, the prefecture has all it needs to apply successfully for an IR license and host the first of three such projects in Japan.

Yokohama Continues with IR Bid on Track Despite Coronavirus

Despite a state of emergency issued by the Japanese government of Shinzo Abe, the country’s prime minister, Japan is on track with integrated resorts (IR), special administration areas that will host the three casino projects, the first of which is scheduled for 2024.

Yokohoma mayor Fumiko Hayashi has confirmed that the city will continue with the IR bid despite the additional obstacles introduced by the spread of COVID-19, a virus that causes severe respiratory distress and has infected over 1.2 million people globally as of the moment of writing.

In a press briefing, the mayor confirmed that the coronavirus pandemic would not hinder officials from working through the necessary paperwork to submit a bid to the national government for the prefecture’s right to host the first such resort that is expected to bring in 400 billion yen annually and have an economic ripple effect worth between 700 billion yet and 900 billion yet.

The figures have been issued by the Tokyo metropolitan government in 2018 and while they won’t apply to Yokohoma’s bid, the numbers seem to do justice to the statement that this would be one of the most important casino projects in the world.

Bidders Continue to Pursue IR Prospect

So much that multiple brands, including tribal operator Mohegan Sun and Las Vegas Sands have both placed bids to be among the first to host one of the resorts. Even though the present crisis spells uncertainty, and casino shares in the United States have taken a severe tumble, Japan’s prefectures and national government have been immovable.

All applications will be submitted in January, as the government has stated plans not to change the submission period and move things forth on track. Yokohoma has been adamant in cementing its bid, creating a special IR office and adding 14 staff members in March to go through the paperwork and assess bidders’ quickly and efficiently. Despite the recent developments, Hayashi too was convinced that Yokohoma would simply have to “press on.”

Succeeding on a national level would require Yokohama to attract the best investor and prove the biggest economic windfall for the prefecture, compared to other bidders. There have been, of course, dissident voices who have tried to stop the bidding process within the prefecture, and a scandal, implicating members of Mr. Abe’s party didn’t help.

Nevertheless, Yokohoma has been determined to proceed business as usual. According to a survey conducted by Yokohoma conducted to collaborate the bidding process and give it the best possible chance of success, only 0.5% of the adult population in the prefecture had admitted to problem gambling.

The survey is important as it helps disprove a claim that a would-be Integrated Resort in Yokohoma will endanger the population’s well-being by incentivizing problem gamblers to pursue a ruinous hobby.

In fact, the Integrated Resort – the first one of which is due in 2024 or 2025 at the latest – will primarily focus on foreigners.

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