Nagoya, Chiba Considering Taking Part in Japanese IR Bidding Process

Posted on: January 31, 2019, 08:02h. 

Last updated on: January 31, 2019, 08:02h.

When it comes to Japan’s integrated resorts, interest from prefectures and local governments has been lukewarm at best. But there are signs this week that officials in the cities of Nagoya and Chiba might be warming to the idea of bringing casinos to their communities.

Nagoya Chiba integrated resort
The mayor of Nagoya says that his city will determine whether it wants to enter the race for an integrated resort by this summer. (Image: City of Nagoya)

Earlier this week, Nagoya mayor Takashi Kawamura told reporters that city officials were planning to begin exploratory discussions on the possibility of making an IR bid with operators and consultants in an effort to decide by this summer whether they would ultimately try to host a resort.

Chiba Businesses Pushing for Resort

According to a report by GGRAsia, Mayor Kawamura laid out his vision for what a proposed resort should look like. He specified that he would want any proposals to be in a location that would be no more than a half-hour from Nagoya’s main railroad station, and that the IR facility should be between five and 10 hectares (12.3 to 25.7 acres) in size.

Meanwhile, a report in the Nikkei Shimbun financial newspaper revealed that a group of businesses in Chiba city, known as “Chiba no Mirai,” is planning to make a series of proposals to city officials and the city’s Chamber of Commerce in the hopes of gaining support for an IR bid.

According to a report by Inside Asian Gaming, one of these proposals would require the creation of a man-made island off the coast of the Makuhari neighborhood. That island would then host the IR complex, while also connecting to existing attractions such as Zozo Marine Stadium, which hosts Chiba’s professional baseball team, via a bridge and an undersea tunnel.

Interest From Nagoya, Chiba Could Heat Up IR Race

While neither of these reports suggests that either Nagoya or Chiba is on the verge on entering the IR race, they are still notable given the lack of interest seen so far throughout the process. Earlier this week, a survey of local officials by Kyodo News found that only three prefectures – Osaka, Wakayama, and Nagasaki – had gone through the process of selecting candidate sites and creating plans to make bids.

The cities of Nagoya and Chiba were among a handful of other locations that were willing to say that they were considering the possibility of making an IR bid, but that they were still doing research on the possibility. That group includes potential heavyweights like Tokyo, Hokkaido, and Yokohama, all of which would be attractive options for major resorts.

But the majority of municipalities – 40 local governments in total – say they have no interest in applying to host a casino. Lawmakers have cited a number of reasons for their reluctance, and with public opinion staunchly against the resorts throughout most of Japan, it is easy to imagine many elected officials fearing that supporting an IR bid could cost them their jobs.

Still, it appears that there will be enough interested bidders for a competitive process between a number of cities and prefectures for the three available licenses. And the battle between interested casino developers could be even fiercer: earlier this month, a number of international operators attended an IR conference in Hokkaido, and several executives have said their firms would be willing to invest billions of dollars into a Japanese gaming resort.