Update, March 2, 2021: A Nagasaki official reportedly confirmed that all five RFP applicants have progressed to the next selection stage for an integrated resort partnership. The fifth contender has since been identified as Niki Chau Fwu (Parkview) Group.
Only four known applicants
Japan’s Nagasaki Prefecture has confirmed that it received five applications from potential integrated resort (IR) casino partners. The January 29 announcement came a day after the closure of the three-week request for proposal (RFP) period.
No official confirmation about the specific candidates was forthcoming, but four of the potential partners are already publicly known. Among them are a consortium involving Current Corp and Get Nice Holdings, Pixel Companyz in collaboration with Groupe Partouche, and Casinos Austria. Last week, Oshidori International Development revealed it is working with Connecticut-based Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment for its bid.
Speaking about the interested parties, the Nagasaki Prefecture Governor Hōdō Nakamura said: “I would like to express my sincere thanks to the applicants and their partner companies for making their applications during a time when the world continues to fight Covid-19.”
Partner selection in August
The next step is for the Japanese prefecture to initially consider the five applications for the planned IR in the city of Sasebo. The successful candidates will move on to the primary phase and must provide relevant documents by March 1.
as many as three candidates to undergo a second round of assessment
After examining the documents, in mid-March the committee will select as many as three candidates to undergo a second round of assessment. If only three or fewer operators remain in the primary phase, the process will go straight to the subsequent stage.
During this second phase, potential IR partners will have to undergo an appropriateness examination as well as engage in a competitive dialogue process. The prefecture plans to choose and announce the successful candidate in August.
The partners will then work together to form a development plan before submitting a bid to the central government. If Nagasaki receives an IR license, it hopes to have the resort facility open in the second half of the decade.
Wynn Resorts pulls out of Yokohama race
In Yokohama, local media has reported that Wynn Resorts has officially withdrawn from the IR race as a result of COVID-19 pandemic uncertainty. The casino company is allegedly looking to focus on its operations in markets such as Macau and the United States.
company would not be pursuing an IR license in the short term
Wynn Resorts previously opened an office in the region to act as a base in Japan, but then announced its closure in August 2020 after only around eight months of operation. Wynn Resorts CEO Matt Maddox also stated in a past earnings call that the US-based company would not be pursuing an IR license in the short term.
A number of operators have pulled out of the race to get an IR license in Japan, including Las Vegas Sands and Caesars Entertainment. The former was not satisfied with certain aspects of IR regulations, while others cited delays in the licensing process and the COVID-19 pandemic as being reasons for withdrawing from the competition.
Some of the casino companies that are still interested in becoming an IR partner in Yokohama include Galaxy Entertainment Group, Genting Singapore, and Melco Resorts & Entertainment.
Central government’s IR bidding process
Since Japan’s legislature legalized integrated resorts in 2018, a number of obstacles have slowed down the process of rolling out the three available licenses. The Nagasaki and Wakayama prefectures, along with the cities of Osaka and Yokohama, are the four locations currently competing for an IR permit.
Before these areas can apply to the central government to be considered for a license, they will need to select an IR project partner. The bidding period for local governments was originally intended to begin in January 2021, but the pandemic led to a delay until October 2021. The application process is now set to close in April 2022.