Nagasaki Wants Tokyo Answers on Integrated Casino Resort Denial

Posted on: January 24, 2024, 11:01h. 

Last updated on: January 24, 2024, 11:23h.

The Nagasaki government is seeking answers from officials in Tokyo on why the prefecture’s integrated casino resort was denied late last year.

Nagasaki casino Japan resort Osaka
Nagasaki Prefecture Gov. Kengo Oishi speaks during the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s 70th anniversary ceremony in Sasebo on Oct. 27, 2023. Oishi says Nagasaki is considering reworking its integrated casino resort development in hopes of gaining approval from the Japan Tourism Agency. (Image: US Navy)

In late December, the Japan Tourism Agency, tasked with reviewing IR bids from prefectures and cities, said Nagasaki’s casino resort proposal had been denied. The agency questioned whether the development group behind the approximately $3.1 billion scheme had the financial wherewithal to bring the resort to reality.

Nagasaki was partnered with Casinos Austria on the IR development of the project that targeted the Huis Ten Bosch theme park in Sasebo. This week, the Nagasaki government sent the Japan Tourism Agency a request for additional information as to why the IR presentation was dismissed.

“On Jan. 12, the prefecture sent a questionnaire to the agency regarding how they examined and evaluated the plan,” the prefecture statement explained. “The prefecture will look into the response of the agency and review all the processes the prefecture has taken.”

Nagasaki Gov. Kengo Oishi in December said he was “surprised” and “did not understand” the decision from the central government authorities.

Future Considerations

Once the tourism agency responds, Oishi says the prefecture will decide whether to amend the IR blueprint and resubmit the application in hopes of a different outcome.

An IR could serve the prefecture as a catalyst for regional revitalization and contribute to the promotion of the regional economy of the entire Kyushu region,” the governor explained.

MGM Resorts International has secured the only approved casino resort development in Japan by way of Osaka. MGM is one of the world’s largest gaming operators. The company is the largest employer in Nevada and is additionally invested in China’s Macau.

Casinos Austria is considerably smaller than MGM, which led to questions about its fundraising capabilities. The company tried to assure Japanese officials that it had the financial backing of several major global financial institutions.

Things soured for the Nagasaki casino campaign when Credit Suisse, the Switzerland-based investment bank and financial services firm that had initially agreed to bankroll the bulk of the casino undertaking, agreed to be acquired last year by USB for $3.25 billion. Concerns were raised about whether USB would be as willing to fund the casino venture.

Casino Was to Have Major Impact

The IR plan Casinos Austria hoped to build included a casino floor measuring about 100,000 square feet with 2,200 slot machines and 220 table games. Government projections said the resort would have brought more than eight million visitors annually to the city, created 10K new direct jobs, and generated almost $3 billion a year in economic activity.

Japan lawmakers legalized up to three commercial casinos in 2018 at the request of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who believed casinos could help diversify the country’s economy. Famed for the many global conglomerates that call Japan home, Abe believed the nation should tap into the leisure tourism sector with resort destinations.

Nagasaki’s economy is primarily based on shipbuilding.