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Due to Local Elections, Japanese Government Delays IR Decision

March 31, 2023 Japan Casino & HotelEvents & Announcements

The announcement of the outcomes of the Integrated Resort (IR) District Development Plans filed by Osaka and Nagasaki for their respective attempts to land a casino resort has been postponed by the national government of Japan until after the April local elections.

The information was revealed by Kyodo News, who cited numerous unnamed government officials. It expressed worries about attempts by various political parties in Osaka to make anti-IR matters a significant topic during local elections, with the policy being a significant point of dispute in the elections for governor and city mayor.

Although the prefectural governor has stated he has guarantees there shouldn’t be any problems, there has been media skepticism in Japan regarding the status of fundraising for Nagasaki.

In April of last year, Osaka and Nagasaki each filed to the federal government their respective IR District Development Plans for a tourism complex with a casino. The two ideas have since been in the national authorities’ possession while they wait for a response.

In Japan, official campaigning for the municipal elections began last week. On April 9, nine prefectures are expected to hold polls as part of a series of local elections.

On April 9, Osaka will hold elections for the prefectural assembly and governor. On the same day, voters in Nagasaki will choose the assembly members for that prefecture.

On April 23, local elections will be held in cities, towns, and villages around the country to choose mayors and assembly members.

For a shot at an IR, Osaka has partnered with casino operator MGM Resorts International and Japan’s Orix Corp. According to previous comments, the resort complex would need an initial investment of JPY1.08 trillion (US$8.02 billion, at current exchange rates), with a planned opening date of 2029.

Bill Hornbuckle, the chief executive of MGM Resorts, indicated in February that the company will face “challenges” in meeting its previously stated goal of opening a gambling facility in Japan by 2029 “if we don’t hear soon” from the local authorities. On the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call, he made his remarks.

JPY438.3 billion has been cited as the amount needed to support the Nagasaki plan. The program has picked Casinos Austria International Japan Inc. as a commercial partner.

Nagasaki Governor Kengo Oishi stated last week that his office would “collect information” on how the sale of the bank “affects the fundraising plan” for the project. Last year, Oishi referred to Credit Suisse Group AG as one of several potential “financial arrangers” for the prefecture’s casino resort project.

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