Tokyo May Bid for Integrated Resort in Japan
As Japan works on offering integrated casino resorts, Tokyo might throw their hat into the ring.
An effort to bring casinos to Japan has been ongoing for quite some time. Legislative efforts have moved forward with a certain number of resorts to be launched in the country in the coming years. However, the licensing process has been delayed due to issues such as COVID-19 as well as illegal acts by lawmakers. Now, we have learned that the Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike has announced the capital could be considering bidding for a casino resort.
A Preferred Destination
Just last week, the central government of Japan announced that its Basic Policy will be in charge of the three integrated resorts that will launch in the country. Lawmakers also announced they have delayed the submission period for license holders as well as consortium partners.
Proposals will be accepted starting on October 1, 2021 through April 28 of 2022. Certain cities have already shown interest for a gaming license including Nagasaki, Yokohama, Osaka and Wakayama. However, operators have wanted to see a venue offered in Tokyo. It is a preferred spot but officials of the city have not said they are interested in hosting an IR.
Now it seems that has changed, Koike said in a report this week that Tokyo will continue to consider if they will apply or not. The city is so desirable due to its capacity of residents. Over 8.6 million people live in the area. With that many people, the city would easily be able to bring in locals as well as tourists to an integrated resort.
In the past, major companies like the Las Vegas Sands were interested in obtaining licensing for a casino. However, the Sands and other companies pulled out after issues developed. The idea is that with Tokyo in the mix, the Sands would reconsider and try to be licensed for operation.
Commercial casinos were a huge goal of the former Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe. His successor, PM Yoshihide Suga, is working hard to see his dream come to reality. The Liberal Democratic Party was able to come up with the votes to continue with the process of IR legalization, even though the public was in strong opposition to the idea. There were also those in the National Diet that were against the idea.
Both Abe and Suga feel that casinos would be a huge driver for the economy in Japan. The new industry would create more leisure travel to the region. While the process has moved forward, it has been time consuming.
The COVID-19 pandemic pushed the process to a slow crawl and issues revolving around lawmaker Tsukasa Akimoto have led questioning of how the IRs will come to be. Akimoto is accused of accepting kickbacks from employees of 500.com in exchange for helping the company be involved in the new gambling industry.
As if that were not enough, after Akimoto was arrested and placed in prison, he reportedly got two of his supporters to bribe a witness to change their testimony so that he would not be convicted. Of course the scheme was found out and now the two people involved in the bribery face charges for their actions.
This misconduct is just one reason why the IR licensing process lost the interest of the Sands and other major companies. If Tokyo will be a city considered for IRs, then we may see Sands and other major companies back in the race for licensing. Only time will tell if Tokyo will become involved in the process or if the effort will even continue to move forward as issues still remain. We will continue to stay on top of any reports involving possible casinos in Japan.