Osaka Waiting on Central Government to Move Forward with Integrated Resort Process

Posted on: August 26, 2020, 11:41h. 

Last updated on: August 26, 2020, 12:33h.

Osaka is the latest city in Japan to formally announce that its integrated resort (IR) time line has been indefinitely suspended.

Osaka Japan casino integrated resort
Osaka, which recently topped Tokyo in the number of new daily COVID-19 cases, is putting its integrated resort aspirations on hold. (Image: Kyodo News)

Japan’s central government failed to meet its own self-imposed July 26 deadline to release its Basic Policy. The document is to contain specifics on how the three casino IR permits will be awarded, as well as regulations on corporate compliance, transparency guidelines for government and operator communications, and measures to combat problem gambling.

As a result of the missed deadline, interested prefectures and cities say it’s impossible for them to proceed with their own IR considerations until the central government issues guidance and regulatory details.

As reported in late June, Osaka delayed its IR submission period for casino consortiums past its previous July 31 deadline. The prefecture says there is no concrete date as to when proposals will need to be submitted.

The United States continues to have a “Warning — Level 3” advisory on Japan, which urges people to avoid nonessential travel to the Asian country.

Indefinite Suspension

Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura told GGRAsia that without details on what the central government will require of each casino, it’s “difficult to proceed” with the prefecture and city’s request-for-proposal process.

Under the coronavirus situation, the process related to IR has been suspended from the time when previously the prefecture and city announced the postponement of the RFP submission deadline,” said Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura.

Yokohama announced it was delaying its IR policy process last week. The Mayor, Fumiko Hayashi, explained that the “city cannot make public its IR implementation policy where the central government does not announce their Basic Policy.”

The central government dragging its feet is turning off casino operators. Las Vegas Sands has bowed out of the running. Wynn Resorts recently closed its Yokohama office, and MGM Resorts revealed during its second-quarter earnings call that it is now looking to take on a minority investor role in Japan.

MGM is considered the favorite to win one of the three casino licenses. The company remains committed to Osaka and has partnered with the Japanese financial services firm Orix Corporation.

2021 Target Date

Despite the setbacks, Japan remains committed to its July 30, 2021, date to receive proposals from prefectures and their preferred casino IR partner. The central government will accept bids from January 4 through July 30 of next year.

The delay in the Basic Policy being released tightens the window for prefectures to review casino submissions, and pick a winning project.

“It is important to note that every candidate site is in very different stages of their IR partner selection process, and the effect of a national timeline change also differ for each local government,” said Bay City Ventures Managing Director Joji Kokuryo, a founding board member and technical advisor for the International Gaming Standards Association Japan.