Hokkaido Prefecture remaining reticent on integrated casino resort license race


In Japan and the mayor for the port city of Tomakomai has reportedly declared that he is ‘very disappointed’ with a decision from the government of Hokkaido Prefecture to continue eschewing the chance to secure an integrated casino resort license.

According to a report from Inside Asian Gaming, Hirofumi Iwakura serves as the mayor for the community of some 174,000 people and made the statement following a Monday meeting with the Governor for Hokkaido Prefecture, Naomichi Suzuki (pictured). The source detailed that this gathering was held following a November of 2019 decision from the leaders of Japan’s northernmost prefecture that pulled the jurisdiction out of the race for the right to host one of the nation’s coming trio of Las Vegas-style developments.

Early expectations:

Tomakomai sits in a region that is already popular with skiers and holidaymakers and had reportedly hoped that this status would help it to win permission to build and run a gambling-friendly facility featuring multiple hotels and restaurants as well as exhibition and retail elements. The small city located along the southern shores of Hokkaido Island had even purportedly managed to attract interest from potential foreign operating partners such as Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment, Hard Rock International Incorporated and Caesars Entertainment Corporation that could have seen its planned development featuring a minimum $10 billion price tag open by the end of the decade.

Direct departure:

However, all of these plans were reportedly dashed after Hokkaido Prefecture decided to exit the process due to concerns that it would not be able to meet the April of 2022 filing deadline owing to the length of time it was expected to take to complete an appropriate environmental assessment. The source furthermore explained that this decision was immediately panned by numerous business groups in Tomakomai and subsequently prompted many of these enterprises to push Suzuki for a reconsideration.

Seven-year suspension:

Suzuki reportedly also used yesterday’s meeting to tell Iwakura that Hokkaido Prefecture will now only be prepared to re-examine the possibility of hosting an integrated casino resort project after seven years. The 39-year-old leader purportedly proclaimed that this delay was down to the negative impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on the local business environment that have now made the jurisdiction unattractive to potential operating partners.

Persistent purpose:

In response and Iwakura reportedly stated that his ambition to bring an integrated casino resort to Tomakomai ‘remains unchanged’ and that he now intends to continue working towards realizing a ‘concept that would be unique to Hokkaido.’ But any such plan is purportedly already at a disadvantage as the cities of Osaka and Yokohama in addition to communities in Wakayama Prefecture and Nagasaki Prefecture are well on the way to naming their preferred operating partners in advance of submitting their official final license bids.

Source: Worldcasinodirectory, Worldcasinonews

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