Japan Government Will Field Integrated Resort Bids January Through June 2021

Posted on: April 14, 2020, 09:08h. 

Last updated on: July 14, 2020, 06:25h.

Japan will not afford prefectures and cities interested in obtaining one of the three available integrated resort (IR) licenses additional time to submit their bids.

Japan casino integrated resort IR
Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants casinos as soon as possible, and not even the coronavirus can delay his wishes to legalize commercial gambling. (Image: Kiyoshi Ota/Getty)

Regardless of what impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the process of forming offers, the federal government maintains that the tender period will run January 4 through July 30 of 2021. That’s according to Kazuyoshi Akaba, Japan’s Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.

GGRAsia first relayed Akaba’s comments that the casino IR bidding period will not be delayed. His remarks came during yesterday’s House of Representatives Budget Committee hearing.

Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared state of emergencies for several major cities last week, including Tokyo and Osaka – two of the likely candidate locales for the casino resorts.

The declarations issue only guidance on how to slow the spread of coronavirus, and does not punish residents or citizens for failing to adhere to the emergency decrees.

Coronavirus Crisis

Japan has 7,255 confirmed COVID-19 cases, and 102 deaths. That’s far fewer than in China, which has reported 83,597, a figure US officials highly dispute and allege has been purposely limited.

Hokkaido has been the hardest hit prefecture in Japan. The island has expressed interest in making a bid for an IR, but yesterday issued a state of emergency after experiencing an unexpected surge in coronavirus.

After a three-week emergency order was lifted on March 19 and schools began reopening, an uptick in the virus forced government and health officials to reimplement the directive.

We are facing a crisis of a second wave in the spread of infections,” said Gov. Naomichi Suzuki in the Sapporo capital.

Similar to the emergency orders in Tokyo and Osaka, the Hokkaido declaration specifies no punishment for violators, and relies on voluntary compliance. The emergency urges residents to avoid all non-essential travel, and to stay at home whenever possible.

Bidding War

With travel restrictions remaining in place around the world, prefectures and cities will find it difficult to form their IR bids with casino operators – and all of the gaming bigwigs are international firms.

American casino giants Las Vegas Sands, MGM Resorts, Wynn Resorts, and Hard Rock International are all working to win licensure in Japan. The US Department of State maintains a Global Level 4 Health Advisory, which advises US citizens to avoid all international travel.

As for Japan, the State Department says, “Many cases of COVID-19 have been associated with travel to or from mainland China, or close contact with a travel-related case, but sustained community spread has been reported in Japan. Sustained community spread means that people in Japan have been infected with the virus, but how or where they became infected is not known, and the spread is ongoing.”

Additional companies mulling IR bids for Japan include Melco Resorts and Galaxy Entertainment, both based in Hong Kong, and Malaysia’s Genting Group.

Casinos will first form local consortiums with Japanese businesses, and then bid their host city and prefecture. If selected, the casino and local government will present their offer to the central government next year with hopes of winning licensure.