Yokohama Officials to Check Viability of Previous Financial Plans of Integrated Casino Resorts’ Applicants

A Yokohama senior official revealed that the city plans to once again take into consideration the companies that had said they were willing to establish a presence through the operation of an integrated casino resort. Now, the Japanese city that has been interested in attracting private-sector investors to a possible gambling license is to check whether their previous financial plan for an integrated casino resort project remains viable considering the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

As revealed by a Japanese correspondent of the GGRAsia, yesterday, a deputy mayor of Yokohama, Toshihide Hirahara, commented on the authorities’ intentions at a meeting with anti-casino community groups. The local official has been involved with the city’s plans to host a large-scale casino and entertainment complex that has been known under the term integrated casino resort as part of the country’s gambling market liberalization.

Toshihide Hirahara revealed that city officials now intend to resume communication with commercial organizations that have already submitted suggestions under the request-for-concept (RFC) phase of the application process. The phase ran until the end of December 2019. Reportedly, the applicants will be approached to provide their opinions on their pre-coronavirus expectations for earnings and capital investment from such a scheme.

As revealed in May 2020, a Kensai region-based business group had hinted the capital investment for an integrated casino resort project might have to be reduced because of the Covid-19 crisis’ negative impact. Currently, the city of Osaka and the Osaka Prefecture, which are situated in the Kensai region, are among the main options for locations to host one of the three integrated casino resorts that have been planned to be established in Japan as part of the first phase of the country’s gambling liberalization.

Major International Gambling Operators Linked with Pursuit of Casino License in Japan

So far, the majority of global gambling companies have been linked with interest in entering the Japanese casino market through the operation of an integrated casino resort. However, most of them are already facing either a considerable decline in their casino gross gaming revenue (GGR) or current temporary facility closures. Before the coronavirus pandemic outbreak, there have been some estimates of big-city casino resort projects estimated to be as much as $10 billion.

Some of the casino operators that have been associated with interest in running an integrated resort in Yokohama have been Wynn Resorts Ltd, Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd, Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd and Genting Singapore Ltd. Earlier this year, Last Vegas Sands Corp, which has been considered one of the frontrunners for a casino operating license in the city, decided to pull out of the competition.

On the other hand, international gambling operators associated with a pursuit of a Japanese integrated casino resort have pointed out another factor that they found concerning. The national government has not yet unveiled its basic policy on the integrated resorts, although Japanese cities that have been interested in becoming home to such a project would have to choose a private-sector partner before the beginning of the national application process that is currently due to start in January 2021.

In late July, Fumiko Hayashi, the mayor of Yokohama, explained that in case the national government did not unveil its basic policy on integrated casino resorts by early August, the city would be unable to finalize and announce its own policy on the project by the end of the month. Previously, Yokohama authorities had said that the local policy on the integrated resort projects would probably be announced in August, but the request-for-proposal (RFP) phase has been delayed.

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