Yokohama is set to join this week the race for the right to host one of Japan’s first casino resorts, according to sources close to the local government.
Japan legalized casinos as part of larger integrated resorts at the end of 2016. The country’s government then authorized the development of up to three such properties and they are now expected to open doors in the mid-2020s.
Other Japanese cities and prefectures have already ramped up their efforts to race for the right to host one of the three integrated resorts. The city of Osaka with its plan for a resort on the artificial Yumeshima island is considered by many as the frontrunner in the race. The man-made island was selected last year as the site for the 2025 World Expo, which is believed that will further boost Osaka’s casino bid.
According to Japanese news outlets, the Mayor of Yokohama, Fumiko Hayashi, may announce that her city will, too, bid for the right to host one of Japan’s three casino resorts later this week.
It is understood that the port city that has population of around 3.75 million people plans to build the resort at the 47-hectare Yamashita Wharf, which is located not far from tourist-heavy spot Yamashita Park.
Sources also said that the city government will submit during this September’s regular session of the local assembly a draft budget involving an additional ¥260 million the city would use to further its casino bid.
Concerns over Gambling Addiction, Crime
Earlier this year, Yokohama tapped 12 casino operators to estimate the potential economic impact of an integrated resort in the city. According to those operators, a property of this kind could generate up to ¥1.6 trillion (roughly $1.6 billion) in economic impact to the city.
Yokohama residents were also invited to voice their opinion on the matter. Many expressed concerns that a casino in the city would bring more crime and prompt increase in gambling addiction rates.
The project also saw some opposition due to the choice of location as Yamashita Wharf has also been tapped as the site for another potential development scheme that involves the development of tourist spots and attractions.
An association of warehousing business operators at the wharf has, too, raised opposition to the proposed location of the resort.
On the other hand, the local government is understood to have been keen over the city officially announcing its casino bid. According to sources, Yokohama officials will be lobbying heavily in the casino location selection process.
Aside from Yokohama and Osaka, the Nagasaki and Wakayama prefectures have, too, declared their interest in hosting one of Japan’s three casino resorts.
Japan’s central government is yet to reveal on what criteria it would judge the bidding cities and prefectures, but it is believed that the winners in the race are to be selected later this year. Next up will be the selection of the preferred operators of the future integrated resorts.
Under a set of requirements approved by the Japanese government earlier this year, the country’s integrated resorts will have to include large hotels with more than 100,000 square meters allocated to guest rooms, multiple attractions and entertainment options, fine dining, MICE facilities, and retail space, among others.
The casino portion of the resorts must not exceed 3% of their total floor area. Japanese nationals will have limited access to the gaming floors as part of the government’s efforts to limit the negative impact of increased gambling on the country’s residents.
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