Pre-empting what many are seeing is a done deal, Japan’s regions are already preparing their bids to develop one of two resorts.
[dropcap]S[/dropcap]o Japan may be joining the international gaming zone – and not before time many observers believe. But the process has a complicated path to navigate – not just in the political corridors, but outside in the local districts. In an economic drought – as Japan has experienced over the last decade – water is a scarce commodity, but when it comes in the form of casino gaming, the battle for fresh flowing, economically reviving funds will be intense.
In the structure proposed for the implementation of Japan’s casino bill, the state chooses which zones will host an Integrated Resort, based on maximising social and economic benefits. In order to be selected, local governments must pitch their IR proposals to the central government, along with the projected gains they expect to generate.
Investors will pitch their ideas to local governments, who get to choose which operator they think would maximise these gains, and enhance their bid. Local lawmakers also pick which local company they would employ to build and deliver the project, which is also weighed up as a socioeconomic outcome.
The process is expected to take some years, yet several local governments have already been in talks with foreign investors, and conducted surveys to predict their economic impact of these proposals, in preparation for their pitch to the state.
Osaka has long been an enthusiastic supporter, proposing to build an IR resort on Yumeshima Island in Osaka Bay, which they claim would employ 98,000 people and generate Y760bn ($6.6bn) for the region. Over the past three years, Caesars Entertainment, MGM Resorts and Genting Singapore have all been submitting their proposals to Osaka.
“IR facilities are necessary to expand employment,” said Osaka’s governor Ichiro Matsui. “I want to create a facility that the world will admire.”
Yokohama is also a big bidder, predicting Y671bn ($5.8bn) from an IR, employing nearly 71,000 people.
Tomakomai City estimates an IR there would attract 3.8m visitors, with an economic effect of up to Y162bn ($1.4bn) and jobs for some 18,000 locals. Sasebo, home to a US Navy base, expects 5m visitors a year and Y250bn ($2.2bn), yet only employing 11,000.
Tokyo however, has been more cautious: “From the viewpoint of rebuilding tourism, integrated resorts are a plus,” Tokyo’s governor, Yuriko Koike said. “On the other hand, there are various social concerns, so you have to look at the whole picture. What we should do for Tokyo is something that I want to continue to discuss.”