Wakayama closes in on naming preferred integrated resort operator

by Ethan Anderson Last Updated
Wakayama closes in on naming preferred integrated resort operator

One of Japan’s contending cities for an integrated resort licence has confirmed it will announce its selected operator by the end of April, at the latest.

Inside Asian Gaming reports that the prefecture stopped accepting documentation from candidate operators on January 15, receiving applications from just two candidates – Suncity Group Holdings Japan and Clairvest Neem Ventures.

Wakayama had established a selection committee consisting of nine experts with the intention of naming a preferred operator.

Initially, this date was set for early April but the committee needed more time to make its final decision, so it was pushed out.

Wakayama Governor Yoshinobu Nisaka has been enthusiastic about opening an integrated resort and according to sources, was actively taking in the opinions of those around him in his considerations.

A rapid increase in coronavirus infections across Japan has also seen the integrated resort project take a backseat in the short term.

The prefecture’s integrated resort promotion office said: “We can only answer that a decision will be made in April, based on the examination of the selection committee.”

They added, “Nagasaki has just entered its second round of examinations and Yokohama is still only in the RFP stage,” emphasising the fact that Wakayama will still be the first location to settle on its integrated resort operator partner once the decision is made public.

Wakayama throws its hat into Japanese casino ring

A Japanese prefecture is considering lodging an integrated resort bid, but said it must focus on wellness and nature.

Casino.org reported in January that Wakayama lawmakers want their integrated resort to embody a healing apparatus.

In explaining the specifics of its integrated resort and what features interested bidders would be smart to include, Wakayama officials want the development to incorporate natural elements of the city.

Wakayama’s integrated resort implementation policy urges casino consortiums to prepare bids to implement the waterfront, hot springs and local culture into the resort plans.

“Nature-based activity tourism is a leading trend in tourism globally,” Wakayama’s Fundamental Concept of integrated resort policy declares.

“Wakayama has great potential as a tourist destination with its wide variety of recreation, blessed with a long coastline, deep mountains and many rivers, almost every kind of experience-type tourism is possible,” the request-for-proposal explains.

Wakayama is a small prefecture and city and its population has been declining for a quarter of a century.

Since 2010, Wakayama has been the only prefecture in the Kansai region with fewer than one million residents.

While global real money casino operators interested in building in Japan prefer investing in major cities such as Tokyo, Yokohama or Osaka, Japan lawmakers legalised commercial gambling in an effort to spur economic growth in struggling cities.

Wakayama certainly meets that criteria.

Wakayama leaders say they’re in the casino bidding process for three primary reasons” job creation, economic development and tourism promotion.

City officials have offered up an approximately 50-acre plot of land in the Wakayama Marina City.

The location is roughly a 60-minute train or car ride from Osaka.

The resort will not be a casino-first destination.

The Wakayama government says the casino should be a minor element of the complex, with the gaming floor limited to three per cent of the total integrated resort space.

Proposals should offer diverse tourist attractions, the policy mandates.

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