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Japan – Wakayama sets its sights on casino unveiling in 2026

By - 11 January 2021

Asian junket investor Suncity Group and Canada-based Clairvest, the only two companies that have lodged proposals to develop a casino in Wakayama, located east of Osaka, have been told their IR would need to generate ‘significant economic and employment effects’ and ‘attract customers from within Japan in order to further develop the prefecture.’

It will make a decision on the chosen operator/developer in the spring and will apply for regional certification by April next year, with the aim of unveiling an IR property in 2026.

Wakayama wants to develop a casino on the artificial island of Marina City in Kemi, Wakayama City, with the operating licence lasting for 40 years. The project’s a focus must be on sports and well being, taking advantage of the waterfront location, hot springs, food culture and other local resources Wakayama famous for. It should offer exhibition and conference facilities with at least 100,000 square meters of hotels and a casino making up no more than three per cent of the project’s footprint.

Suncity has said it would spend between HK$30bn and HK$35bn (US$3.8bn to US$4.5bn) on an Integrated Resort in its Wakayama, in the Kansai region, on Honshū island’s Kii

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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