Nagasaki Eyes Potential Casino Partners as IR Proposal Process Kicks Off

  • Request for Proposal process for casino operators in Nagasaki started January 7
  • Prefecture aims to finalize a basic agreement with a partner in summer or fall 2021
  • Four known operators are in the race, among other rumored possible candidates 
  • National government will start accepting local government IR applications in October 2021
skyline of Nagasaki, Japan at dusk
Nagasaki has started a proposals process inviting casino operators vying for IR partnership to come forward until January 28. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Operators to submit application by January 28

Japan’s Nagasaki prefecture launched the proposal process to find an integrated resort (IR) partner on January 7, with operator applications being accepted for initial screening until January 28. The Request for Proposal (RFP) process will allow interested companies to submit questions about the application requirements by January 15. Recruitment guidelines are now available for operators to view.

Integrated resort is a term that describes significant tourist resorts in Japan that will contain a casino. Nagasaki is vying to be a host region for one of the three IR licenses available in the country.

The prefecture aims to choose a suitable IR operator and reach a basic agreement in the summer or fall of this year. An eight-person examination committee will evaluate the merits of each applicant to determine a suitable candidate. The chairperson of the Nagasaki Regional Policy Research Institute, Atsufumi Kikumori, heads the committee.

prefecture aims to choose a suitable IR operator and reach a basic agreement in the summer or fall

Following initial applications, operators will have until March 1 to submit relevant preliminary screening documents. The results of the initial screening will arrive by the end of March, with final results set to come in August 2021.

Bringing the plan to completion

There are currently four operators known to be competing for IR selection in Nagasaki. These are Casinos Austria, Hong Kong-listed Oshidori International Holdings, a consortium involving Current Corp. and Get Nice Holdings, and Pixel Companyz in collaboration with Groupe Partouche. Local media reports that two US companies and another Asian operator also plan to submit applications.

The current schedule entails that, after choosing an applicant, Nagasaki will proceed to get consent from the Sasebo city council and the Nagasaki Prefectural Assembly for their IR development plan in spring 2022. The prefecture and its partner must then seek approval from the national government. The Japanese government will certify IR area development plans between the fall and winter of next year. 

have the IR open in the second half of the decade

Following plan approval, the goal would be to complete an implementation agreement in 2023, transfer land to begin construction, and have the IR open in the second half of the decade.

Obtaining an IR license

Before applying to the national government for one of the three available IR licenses, a local government needs to have a private sector partner on board. In December 2020, the Japanese government outlined that it would begin accepting IR license applications from local governments between October 1, 2021 and April 22, 2022. 

The central government also finalized its IR national basic policy last month. The authorities no longer plan to tax the gambling winnings of non-resident foreigners at IRs.

As well as Nagasaki, other contenders for IR licenses include the Yokohama, Osaka, and Wakayama. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a delay in the application process rollout, originally scheduled to begin in January 2021.