The beginning of the week saw the new Prime Minister of Japan – Fumio Kishida – renew the commitment of his Government to proceed with the plans for the establishment of integrated casino resorts in the country.
While being present to a plenary session of the House of Representatives and answering questions, he explained that the large entertainment complexes involving a casino venue are a major initiative of the Government that is aimed at making the country a leading tourism force on a global scale. Kishida further shared expectations that the establishment of so-called integrated casino resorts would contribute a lot to local economies by bringing many tourists to the country.
So far, the new Prime Minister of Japan has pledged to continue the policies of his two predecessors – Yoshihide Suga and Shinzo Abe – but he had not announced his opinion on the country’s gambling expansion by the addition of integrated casinos. Now, in reply to questions from Kiyomi Tsujimoto at the plenary session, Mr. Kishida said that the Government will continue taking the steps necessary to open the controversial tourist facilities.
Fumio Kishida Sticks to Shinzo Abe’s Integrated Casino Resorts Policy
Only a couple of months ago, the mayoral election in Yokohama was won by Takeharu Yamanaka, a figure with a strong stance against the proposal to bring Las Vegas-like casino gambling to the country, who pledged to scrap the program to build a casino resort in Kanagawa Prefecture. However, the new Japanese Prime Minister stressed that an integrated resort is expected to greatly help the local economy and highlighted the fact that casinos would not be the only venues in the large entertainment complexes that will also feature hotels, conference halls, etc.
It was Shinzo Abe, the former Prime Minister, who is responsible for leading the nation towards expansion into commercial gambling services. During his reign, Mr. Abe urged the Japanese Legislature to allow casino gambling in an effort to diversify the country’s economy by adding up to the tourism sector.
In early 2020, the former Prime Minister set the ambitious objective of attracting 60 million visitors to the country by 2030. This timeline has been greatly delayed by the main goal remains on track. Now, it seems that Mr. Abe’s successor will stick to the plans of establishing the planned integrated casino resorts no matter the opposition that is being faced on the way.
Three Local Governments Are Preparing IR Casino Applications
Under the provisions of the 2018 IR Implementation Act, the Japanese Government will allow up to three casino operating licenses over the first stage of the country’s gambling expansion.
The leading opposition party in the country – the Constitutional Democratic Party (CDP) – recently introduced a piece of legislation that aims at repealing the 2018 Implementation Act. Prime Minister Kishida, however, said that the legality of the integrated resorts is not a matter to be debated. He further noted that the addition of the IRs is an important element of the country’s economy if Japan wants to become an advanced tourism nation.
Currently, only three local governments are expected to file an application for such a permit – Nagasaki, Osaka and Wakayama. All three of the candidates have already chosen their private commercial partners that are supposed to run the casino resorts at the time they start operation. Nagasaki partnered with Casino Austria, Osaka joined forces with MGM Resorts, while Wakayama chose a consortium compiled by Caesars Entertainment and a private equity firm.
The three potential applicants for an operating casino license are now compiling the necessary materials for making their bids to the national Government. They have until April 28th, 2022 to table their applications, while the Central Government of Japan is set to announce its final decision on the fate of the three IR casino licenses sometime in the summer or autumn of 2022.