Wakayama Remains in Japan Casino Running Despite Suncity Withdrawal

Posted on: May 14, 2021, 11:10h. 

Last updated on: July 5, 2021, 01:35h.

The Wakayama Prefecture is remaining in the integrated casino resort race in Japan despite Suncity Group’s sudden withdrawal.

Wakayama casino resort Japan IR
The Nachi waterfall with a three-storied pagoda in Wakayama, pictured above. The prefecture says it is continuing its casino procession despite Suncity Group removing its candidacy. (Image: Japan Travel)

This week, Suncity, the gaming empire of Macau billionaire Alvin Chau, announced that it would no longer be pursuing a casino development in Wakayama. 

In a statement, Chua points to the pandemic and other uncertain situations for reason for withdrawal. Chua went on to thank Japan, specifically Wakayama residents and local businesses, for their “kindness.”

Wakayama is one of only four cities that has publicly declared intent to win one of the three forthcoming gaming rights allocations. The others are Osaka, Yokohama, and Nagasaki. 

Bidding Pressing On 

Suncity was considered the favorite to be selected by the Wakayama Prefecture. The group’s exit from consideration leaves the region with only one qualified bidder: Clairvest Neem Ventures (CNM). 

CNM is a subsidiary of the Clairvest Group, a Canadian-based private equity conglomerate. Among its investments in the gaming space are the Meadowlands Race Track in New Jersey, the Grey Eagle tribal casino resort in Canada, Chilean Gaming Holdings, and B2B sports betting and iGaming provider FSB Technology. 

Though Clairvest is the sole remaining bidder, Wakayama says it will simply not pick the company’s proposal unless it’s deemed to be warranted. 

We will continue the selection procedure for our remaining candidate to decide if they will be selected or not,” a spokesperson for the Wakayama Prefecture told Inside Asian Gaming this week. 

As for Suncity’s exit, the spokesperson conceded it came as a surprise to the city and prefecture. 

“We are surprised at how sudden this was. It is very regrettable, but we will continue with our examination of the other candidate currently under examination,” the statement explained.

Japan Latest

The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly slowed Japan’s wishes of becoming a commercial gaming market. International travel stoppage and supply chain disruptions have pushed back the openings of the three IRs. 

As is the case now in Wakayama, Osaka only has one qualified contender in MGM Resorts. However, the casino giant says it is seeking a reduced investment role in the development in the wake of the pandemic. 

Melco Resorts is targeting Yokohama, and Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment is interested in Nagasaki. 

Several companies remain on the sidelines, but are closely monitoring Japan’s casino process. They include Wynn Resorts, Galaxy Entertainment, Hard Rock International, Genting Group, and SJM Holdings. 

Las Vegas Sands, once considered a favorite for one of the three licenses, announced its sudden withdrawal in May of 2020. But since then, Sands has agreed to sell its Las Vegas Strip properties in order to focus on its business in Macau, and potentially new development markets. Sands founder Sheldon Adelson died in January at the age of 87.