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Japan – Wakayama IR Promotion Council tells prefecture to speed up casino announcement

By - 8 May 2021

With the race for a casino licence only involving two competitors, the Wakayama IR Promotion Council wants the Wakayama government to announce its preferred partner as soon as possible.

The competing developers Asian junket investor Suncity Group and Canada-based Clairvest have seen the selection date delayed several times already with spring this tear the current target.

Katsuaki Shirako, secretary-general of the IR Promotion Council, stated: “When considering the era after the coronavirus, Wakayama will have a very difficult economic environment if the IR does not come.”

When pushed on a date, the prefecture’s IR Promotion Office said: “We can only answer that a decision will be made in Spring based on the examination of the selection committee. Nagasaki has just entered its second round of examinations and Yokohama is still only in the RFP stage.”

The plan is to develop a casino on an artificial island called Marina City in the Japanese prefecture of Wakayama, located east of Osaka. It must offer MICE facilities covering 50,000 square meters and a casino covering no more than three per cent of the entire area.

Suncity has said it would spend between HK$30bn and HK$35bn (US$3.8bn to US$4.5bn) on an Integrated Resort in Wakayama, in the Kansai region, on Honshū island’s Kii Peninsula. Suncity CEO Alvin Chau said the vision was for a ‘unique project combining Wakayama Prefecture’s historical tradition, natural landscape and cultural essence.’

The Office had previously said that over 20 international IR operators from North America, Europe and Asia had expressed their interest with an IR forum which attracted interest from operating groups including Solaire, Lucien Barriere, Mohegan Gaming, Bloomberry Resorts and Galaxy Entertainment. The government wants its IR to have a 2,500 room hotel with a convention centre and exhibition hall. Marina City is about a 40 minutes drive from Kansai International Airport and a 70 minute drive from Osaka. Its infrastructure is already well developed with many hotels and an amusement park based on medieval European townscapes.

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