Osaka integrated resort project delayed further

by Ethan Anderson Last Updated
Osaka and MGM to pair up for first Japanese integrated resort

The delay to Osaka’s request-for-proposal phase of its integrated resort plan has been deemed reasonable, according to the Japanese unit of casino operate MGM International.

GGR Asia reports that an MGM Resorts Japan spokesperson understands the position of the Japanese city.

The MGM brand is a favourite to be involved in any Osaka integrated resort, as large-scale casino complexes are known in that country.

It could be 2028 – rather than 2027 – before Osaka would be able to open such a venue, indicated on Thursday Osaka’s mayor, Ichiro Matsui.

Mr Matsui said that day that the RFP deadline would be put back by a further six months.

Accordingly, the date for appointing the private-sector partner for Osaka’s integrated resort tilt has been moved back to next year.

The MGM Resorts Japan representative said: “As mayor Matsui indicated, COVID-19 has affected business travel and the ability of members of our Las Vegas team to travel to and from Japan to meet and continue discussions with Osaka city.”

The spokesperson however stated that the latest delay involved “no change” in MGM Resorts’ RFC plans.

“We remain fully committed to our partnership with Orix and are actively working on our proposal in response to Osaka’s RFP to realise a world class integrated resort in Osaka during the timing Mayor Matsui indicated.”

In February, the Osaka authorities said the only qualified applicant for its RFP phase was a consortium consisting of MGM Resorts and Japanese financial group Orix Corp.

Despite being the sole qualified applicant, the consortium still needs to undergo all remaining stages of the Osaka RFC process until an official decision on the selected private-sector partner is announced by local authorities.

In late March, the RFP deadline had been postponed to July, compared to an earlier deadline of April.

Osaka city and prefecture are jointly leading the casino resort bid process.

Mr Matsui said on Thursday that the Osaka authorities were now targeting to have such avenue open in the second half of 2027 at the earliest, or in 2028.

The original target had been prior to the end of March 2027, the closing point of the country’s 2026- financial year.

“We remain committed to Osaka and will continue to work closely with the city to develop a world class integrated resort that the people of Japan can be proud of,” MGM Resorts Japan spokesperson said.

Local governments wishing to host a casino resort will need to apply to the central authorities for the right to have one.

A maximum of three resorts will be permitted in a first phase of liberalisation.

Several commentators have warned that the COVID-19 pandemic might result in an extension of the end date for the 2021 application period in which local governments in Japan must approach the national authorities for the right to host a casino complex.

Osaka puts IR plans on hold

Osaka prefecture said in late March that a key phase in the city’s effort on a possible casino resort would be put back by three months.

GGR Asia reported the Osaka authorities have not however changed their timetable for opening a casino resort in the metropolis.

That remains as prior to the end of March 2027, the end of the country’s 2026-financial year, according to information collated by a GGR Asia correspondent.

According to Friday’s announcement, the deadline for Osaka’s request-for-proposal phase of its tilt at an integrated resort will be put back to July, compared to an earlier deadline of April.

Osaka city and prefecture are jointly leading the casino resort bid process.

The latest announcement meant that the Osaka authorities have now given up an ambition to get an integrated resort open in Osaka before the city hosts World Expo 2025.

In December, Osaka’s mayor, Ichiro Matsui said it was likely that a casino resort could only be opened in that city in 2026.

Osaka is due to host the expo on Yumeshima – the same artificial island in Osaka Bay that has been earmarked for the metropolis’ casino resort – from April 13 to October 13 in 2025.

It was announced last week that Japan would postpone until 2021, the summer Olympic Games which it was due to host in Tokyo this summer, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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