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Anti-IR Campaigners Seek Referendum on Proposed Integrated Casino Resort in Osaka

A group of Osaka citizens wants to have their opinions taken into account at a time when the prefecture is applying to the Central Government of Japan for one of the three integrated casino resort licenses. However, not everyone agrees with the position of the group of citizens who are against the gambling expansion measure and seek to trigger a referendum on the issue.

According to experts, they have very slim chances of success at best, but still, the initiators of the referendum have already managed to gather a total of 157,000 signatures – a number that is considered enough to take the matter to Osaka City Council and the prefecture Governor’s office. The ones that back the request for a prefecture-wide referendum would have a key role in the process, but analysts believe that it is unlikely for the move to actually get official approval.

Apart from that, the procedure is not that easy. The competent authorities would have to make sure that all the accumulated signatures undergo a thorough verification process. If eventually, their number exceeds the required 146,000 valid signatures, the initiative will be allowed and the prefecture Governor may ask for a referendum to be held. Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura has already risked a lot for the success of the proposed integrated office, despite the fact that the prefecture of Osaka has invested quite some time and effort while trying to prepare the measure.

The group of Osaka citizens who are against the proposed gambling expansion has threatened to protest and block the arrival of the integrated casino resort in case their demands are not met.

The thing is that some local residents fear that yhe man-made island in close proximity to Osaka Bay would not be able to host the planned venue. These concerns have been even backed by some officials, although the bid has already received the competent authorities’ approval. Despite that, anti-IR campaigners argue that the economic benefits that would be brought by the establishment of an integrated casino resort would not match the extra financial burden that would have to be faced by local residents.

Osaka Officials Could Lose Support for Future Political Campaigns Due Integrated Casino Resorts Disagreements

Integrated casino resorts have become a hot topic in the country, especially considering the considerable negative impact of the global Covid-19 pandemic, which seriously hit all sectors of the economy. However, they are too big of a commitment for any city or prefecture to simply withdraw, especially considering that each IR project is expected to cost the developers between $10 billion and $12 billion to be finalized.

So far, Osaka has already dealt with an unsuccessful attempt to roll out a referendum, which has come to prove that local citizens, no matter how opinionated they are about the issue, would not be strong enough to make local officials change their plans. Osaka has proved itself resilient to the opposition of the proposed integrated casino resort, unlike other cities and prefectures, such as Wakayama and Yokohama, which have decided to no longer pursue an IR license and dropped out of the competition.

Now, local campaigners have been arguing that their voices are not being heard. They have also been claiming that the prefecture’s Government is acting by showing no regard for the rights, concerns, or feelings of local people, and this could cost elected officials political credit in future campaigns.

Lately, the pressure to realize the integrated casino resort project has been getting bigger and bigger. At the time when the idea of establishing an IR in the region first occurred, the issue gathered unanimous support. However, things changed since then, because many operators and even local governments that originally shared plans to make an investment in the project decided to eventually leave the competition.

The prefecture of Osaka has been extremely proactive in its attempts to attract investors to the chosen location for the integrated casino resort. However, they would have to make sure that the artificial island of Yumeshima is fit to host such a project, with all potential soil liquefaction issues properly sorted out.

 Author: Harrison Young

Harrison Young is an experienced writer, who started his career almost 8 years ago. Prior to joining our team at CasinoGamesPro, he worked as an editor for a small magazine.