Opening of Nagasaki and Osaka Casinos Facing Delays Due to Additional Screening

  • It looks unlikely that either of the two proposals will get approved by the end of 2022
  • Nagasaki was hoping to open its casino in 2027, Osaka was aiming for a 2029 launch
  • Discussions are ongoing between local governments and the land ministry
  • Nagasaki and Osaka are the only two regions to officially apply for a casino resort license
Delayed status
The opening of casino resorts in Nagasaki and Osaka could now be delayed due to additional screening. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Delays looking likely

It seems the opening of casinos in the Japanese prefectures of Nagasaki and Osaka might have to wait a while longer than expected. On Thursday, Japan’s land ministry said it seems unlikely that officials will decide on casino proposals from the two prefectures before the end of the year. A ministry official said:

From a practical viewpoint, it seems quite difficult.”

Nagasaki hoped to open its casino in 2027, while Osaka was aiming for a 2029 launch.

Both prefectures are seeking the official green light to construct integrated resorts (IRs). These facilities would contain gambling areas, large hotels, and other amenities. Wakayama pulled out of the casino contest in April, leaving just Osaka and Nagasaki in the running.

Snags in the proposals

The different regions submitted their Japan casino proposals back in April, with each outlining their plans for the location, layouts, and possible expenditures to develop the IRs .Interested parties hoped authorities would decide on the proposals this year, but this now looks unlikely, as per the Japan Times.

The Osaka prefecture worked closely with MGM Resorts International and Orix Group on its proposal, while the Nagasaki prefecture is working with Casinos Austria. Bally’s Corporation submitted a late bid for an IR project in Fukuoka in April but the city has not entered the race.

Osaka is hoping to develop a resort on an artificial island in Osaka Bay. Elements of its proposal that have faced scrutiny include its plans to prevent soil contamination and land subsidence. The main obstacle to Nagasaki’s proposal relates to its funding feasibility, with foreign financial institutions required to play a key role.

The stance on gambling

Casinos only became legal in Japan in 2018 as the government sought a way to boost regional economies and tourism levels. The government plans for three integrated casino resorts to be built in the country, with Nagasaki and Osaka the only two regions to officially apply for a license.

a politician received a four-year prison sentence for accepting bribes

Gambling expansion has faced some opposition in Japan, with concerns about gambling addiction and potential upticks in crime. This negative attention was worsened when a politician received a four-year prison sentence for accepting bribes from a casino developer that wanted to improve its chances in the IR race.

Despite approving some land-based venues, Japan continues to take a hard stance on online gambling. In October, the Japanese authorities issued a warning that people found to be using online casinos face arrest.