Kitakyushu Withdraws From Japan’s Integrated Resort Race

  • Kitakyushu's mayor outlined four reasons for the city’s withdrawal from the race
  • Three private sector groups had been interested in working with the local government
  • Investment figures of $4bn were discussed when the city first showed an interest
Kitakyushu , Japan
The mayor of Kitakyushu has outlined four reasons why the city will no longer be pursuing one of the three integrated casino resort licenses available in Japan. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

No longer interested

Kitakyushu’s mayor has announced that the city has withdrawn from the race to secure one of the three casino resort licenses available in Japan.

The city is located in the region of Kyushu. It already had three different private sector companies interested in securing an operating license on the basis of the city being selected as one of the three destination cities.

Four reasons given

Kitakyushu’s mayor outlined four reasons why the city had decided to withdraw from the race. The first reason was being unable to identify a suitable site. The risks associated with such a project was another reason, due to the number of large-scale facilities required by the government.

Kitakyushu’s mayor outlined four reasons why the city had decided to withdraw from the race

There was also a lack of public support for an integrated casino resort in the city. Finally, the city did not have enough time to properly prepare an application for a license and submit it to the national government.

Applications can be submitted from anytime now until July 30, 2021.

Previous interest

For a long time, concerns were raised about the lack of a suitable site in Kitakyushu. This did not stop a number of private groups from expressing interest in developing such a project. One of these companies suggested a site near the Kokura stations of the Japanese Railway Group in the north of the city. 

An investment of at least $4bn was rumored to be pitched by private sector groups that expressed interest. There was no indication as to whether or not this planned investment sum was inclusive of land acquisition costs. 

Details about the three interested parties was limited. They were allegedly from Hong Kong, Macau, and the United States. They were reportedly a mix of international gambling operators and fund investors.

Local governments in the Kyushu region were more in favor of the casino license going to Nagasaki. This region has also received interest from three different suitors to date.

Impact of casino bribery scandal

The ongoing casino bribery scandal has been dampening the government’s efforts to develop legislation for these integrated casino resorts. As a result, the application process has yet to begin.

A number of government officials were arrested and questioned for allegedly accepting bribes from a gambling company based in China. The Japanese public has also been outspoken about its desire to not have these casino resorts in their country. This is mainly due to the perceived societal costs such resorts will carry. 

However, the government is plowing ahead with plans to create these three integrated casino resorts due to the revenue they would generate.