Fukuoka City, Japan Casino Proposal Shot Down by Mayor

Posted on: October 4, 2019, 09:19h. 

Last updated on: October 4, 2019, 10:36h.

Fukuoka City, Japan is resisting a local recommendation to vie for one of Japan’s three integrated resort venue licenses as the competition heats up in other communities.

A local proposal to place a large casino in Fukuoka, Japan was rejected by the city’s mayor. (Image: GaijinPot Travel)

Mayor Soichiro Takashima recently said the timing to take part is not right, and given the head start other cities have, it “would be hard to catch up.” He worries, too, about a large casino’s impact on problem gambling, according to Inside Asian Gaming.

The report noted how the Junior Chamber International Fukuoka (JCI) — made up of younger members interested in economic and social development — called for the city to be considered for a license. Fukuoka has a busy airport and could be a popular location for gamblers.

Among the city’s potential locations for a gaming property are Chuo Pier, Koto/Nokono Island, Saitozaki/Shika Island, and the former site of Kyushu University Hakozaki Campus, the JCI said.

Fukuoka City has the largest population — approximately 1.6 million — of any community on Kyushu island. It is already a destination for tourists coming from China, South Korea, and Taiwan — often by cruise ships or high-speed ferries. Many choose to shop in the city.

But Taichi Tojima, chairman of the Junior Chamber International Fukuoka Future City Design Committee, was quoted by Asia Gaming Brief that when looking ahead, Fukuoka has “an unavoidable reality that, as in Japan’s overall trend, there is an inevitable decline in economic vitality and fiscal weakness due to depopulation and aging.”

Nationally, the regions seriously participating in the competition for a license are Hokkaido Prefecture, Chiba city, Tokyo Prefecture, Yokohama city, Nagoya city, Osaka Prefecture, Wakayama Prefecture, and Nagasaki Prefecture.

Beyond the eight, The Jiji Press reported that Kawasaki city, Hamamatsu city, and Shizuoka Prefecture are considering an effort, too, which would bring the number of candidates to 11.

Leaders in Quest for License

As of last month, Osaka, Tokyo, and Yokohama were likely front-runners to capture one of the three licenses. Casino operators which are considered front-runners in the race are Las Vegas Sands and MGM Resorts International, with other favored candidates being Melco Resorts, Galaxy Entertainment, Wynn Resorts, Genting, and Hard Rock.

The integrated resorts will include massive casinos, expansive hotels, and many options for dining, retail shopping, exhibition space, and entertainment. Casino operators likely would need to spend $10 billion to $15 billion to open an integrated resort in Japan, according to recent estimates from Fitch Ratings.

The firm also projected Japan as a $10 billion GGR market, up from an earlier prediction of $7 billion. With that new GGR estimate, Japan could come in third among global gaming markets, trailing Macau in China and Nevada.

Japan’s national government has yet to announce final details and a timeline on the competition. As envisioned, the integrated resorts could open in 2025.

For example, MGM Resorts CFO Corey Sanders said last month the company could begin building an integrated resort in Osaka in 2021 and complete the project by 2025.

By 2030, Japan wants to have 60 million visitors a year. Last year, Japan saw some 31 million visitors, according to The Straits Times.

Local Concerns

There are concerns locally in several communities about negative impact from increased tourism and the presence of a major resort casino. Beyond higher risk for problem gambling, traffic concerns, environmental impact, and negative effect on smaller businesses are just some of the issues getting raised.