Recently revealed delays to Japan’s integrated resort legislative process are unlikely to be as long as first thought, but are nevertheless expected to push back the opening date of the nation’s first IR to 2026.
The updated development timeline formed the crux of a new research brief released by Global Market Advisors (GMA) this week following news that the establishment of Japan’s Casino Management Commission and finalization of IR regulations could be delayed by up to a year due to impending Upper House elections.
Originally planned for 1 July 2019, GMA says it still expects the Commission to be formed before the end of the year, “triggering the process to move forward with the regulations and the RFP process” and “only delaying the process by a few months as opposed to a full year.”
While this is positive news for the industry, even the relatively minor delay will make it difficult for officials in Osaka to achieve their goal of opening an IR in time for the World Expo which it will host for six months from 3 May 2025.
“Even under the most aggressive timeline, it would have been a challenge to get an IR open on Yumeshima by 2025, should they be awarded one of the three coveted licenses,” GMA said. “This is because of the challenges that would face any structure of this magnitude being built anywhere in Japan, let alone a man-made island that may have its own challenges in construction.”
GMA stated that the full development timeline for one of Japan’s IRs would take between 54 and 64 months, adding there are currently 67 months remaining until World Expo 2025. For such a tight timeline to be achieved, it may require local governments and operators to take the risk of investing significant funds to start the process before having any guarantee of securing a license.
“The timeline could advance to a faster IR opening should the operator/prefecture partnership take the risk upon themselves to advance an IR opening earlier than 2026,” the report said. “If there is not a process in place by 2Q20, it is unlikely that a full integrated resort would be open in time to meet the desires of Osaka for the World Expo in 2025, or anyone else that will be investing billions of dollars into an integrated resort.”