An uncertain time frame
Japanese Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism, Kazuyoshi Akaba, has indicated that the certification application period for integrated resort (IR) licenses in the country may be postponed.
The applications process was originally set to take place between January and July 2021. However, a decision to delay it is now likely as local governments and IR operators continue to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
IR operators who have partnered with local governments are in a difficult situation”
Speaking at a press conference on Friday, the Tourism Minister said: “Some IR operators who have partnered with local governments are in a difficult situation due to the impact of COVID-19, and there have been opinions expressed that the future is uncertain.” He added that action will follow upon determining the situation with local governments.
Delays to the process
Currently, there are four main locations in the country that are looking to develop an integrated resort. These are Osaka, Yokohama, Wakayama, and Nagasaki.
Each of these candidates has already postponed their Request for Proposal (RFP) processes. Their actions came in the wake of the pandemic, as well as in response to uncertainty regarding the central government’s release timeline for the integrated resorts Basic Policy.
Once the policy is published, local governments and operators will be hoping for a timetable indicating the development of the said casino resorts.
Operators pulling out
Some operators have also recently pulled out of the race to work with local governments on these integrated resorts. There are a total of three IR licenses available.
Las Vegas Sands withdrew its bid for a license in Yokohama in May, while Wynn Resorts confirmed last week it would be closing its office in Yokohama. Wynn still holds a long-term interest in having a presence in Japan, but it does not plan to enter this market in the foreseeable future.
MGM Resorts International is the only candidate remaining in Osaka. While it still plans to pursue a license, it may also pull out if the possible return on investment is not as attractive due to the fallout from the pandemic.