The already lengthy process to apply for a casino license in Japan got even longer last week when the government issued an edict officially postponing the process, which was to have started in January, to July 2021. The reason is the continuing effects of Covid 19 on Japanese cities and the need to concentrate on mitigating those effects before moving on to the integrated resort application process.
The original plan for the IR application process was to evaluate them over a seven month period starting in January. It is still undetermined what cities would be permitted to host the three IR licenses available. The cities involved in the bidding process were already anticipating such a delay. Nagasaki prefecture had already delayed acting on any applications until the fall of 2021. Along with the Covid crisis, the resignation of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has thrown more confusion into the process.
Before the delay, Osaka had hoped to complete the process, award the license and open the facility by 2025, when it is slated to host a “World Expo,” but that seems to be even more remote due to the new postponement.
Also an issue is the ongoing bribery scandal involving the Chinese company, 500.com.
Japan has also failed to release its final basic gaming policy statement, which will outline the criteria, economic impact, tax rate, and other specifics. The policy is also now expected to include an approach toward problem gaming and how to combat infectious diseases like the coronavirus.
In Yokohama, Mayor Fumiko Hayashi said that she would follow the central government’s directives even if a referendum is held that fails to support an IR in her city.
“There will be people for it and against it. We will continue with considerations based on the budget decisions of the city council, who represent the city’s residents,” she said.
Hayashi was elected in 2017 saying she was undecided on an IR, but in 2019 declared that Yokohama would make a bid. She said her personal feelings played no part in that decision.
“All of my policies are decided after discussions with the city council. I would never take action based on my own, personal decisions,” she said.