Japan’s Wakayama province has changed the timeline for making important decisions in relation to its effort to win the right to host one of the country’s first three integrated resorts with dedicated casino floors.
Wakayama leaders said earlier today that they now aim to select a private-sector partner that would accompany the prefecture in its casino license bid in January 2021. The prefecture was originally expected to announce its casino partner in mid-November.
Wakayama officials told Asian casino news outlet GGRAsia that Japan’s state of emergency, which the country declared in mid-April in the face of the global coronavirus pandemic, was to blame for the delay.
Prefecture leaders explained that restrictions on domestic travel as well as on private business activities during the state of emergency were among the factors that forced them to push back the private-sector partner selection process. Japan lifted its state of emergency late last month.
The Japanese prefecture also extended the deadline for the submission of papers in relation to its request-for-proposals process. Companies interested to operate a casino in the Wakayama prefecture can now submit their proposals until October 19. The original deadline was set for August 31.
The changes were announced today by the prefecture’s IR Promotion Office. The office also noted that further changes could be implemented to the schedule, based on “national trends.”
Two Revealed Suitors
Wakayama published a draft integrated resort implementation policy and launched a consultation period with potential casino operators in February. The prefecture launched the request-for-proposals process in late March.
It revealed that two suitors qualified for the request-for-proposals stage. Those were Suncity Group Holdings Japan Co Ltd, the Japanese unit of major Macau junket operator Suncity Group, and Clairvest Neem Ventures, a unit of Canada-based private equity firm Clairvest Group.
Wakayama is one of several prefectures and cities to have expressed interest in entering Japan’s casino resort race. Prefecture officials said that they expect the central government to name the three candidates that will host the country’s first integrated resort properties in the fall or winter of 2021 and that if Wakayama is among the preferred hosts of such properties, it should be able to open its resort around the spring of 2025.
Wakayama officials said previously that they would expect from their private-sector partner to build a unique property that would feature facilities significantly different from other integrated resorts that would be developed in Japan.
The preferred resort developer would also be expected to leverage on Wakayama’s existing tourism attractions such as natural landmarks, historic sites, hot springs, and very specific food culture.
The artificial Marina City island has previously been named as a potential location of Wakayama’s casino resort. The man-made island is located in Wakayama City and approximately 40 kilometers from Kansai International Airport in Osaka.
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