Japan’s national government will almost certainly extend the timeline for submissions to develop one of the country’s first integrated resorts by between six and 12 months, according to Yokohama-based consultant Joji Kokuryo.
But a proposed two-year extension is almost certainly off the table – for now at least – with the looming re-tendering process for casino licenses in Macau to influence any decisions made in Japan.
The prospect of Macau’s own licensing concerns impacting Japan was raised during the sixth edition of IAG’s GAME online business platform on Thursday night, which saw IAG CEO Andrew W Scott and Bay City Ventures Managing Director Joji Kokuryo discussing the topic of “Japan: where to now.”
Among the most pressing issues facing development of Japan’s IR industry is the timeline, which had called for the government’s Basic Policy to be released by 26 July this year and submissions by local governments and their chosen operator partners to be made between January and July 2021.
With the Basic Policy still nowhere to be seen and COVID-19 slowing the process for interested localities, it is expected the national government will now extend the timeline for submissions with Kokuryo tipping an extension of up to 12 months.
“The deadline for the national submission was originally the end of July next year, and at this rate we are not going to hit that date – it’s not a very viable date considering that there is still no national policy,” he said.
“So the next logical question is how long is the extension going to be? There has to be a logic on that front. A lot of people are saying two years, but let’s think about what’s happening in Macau in two years – the concession retendering.
“If you have operators that work in both markets (such as MGM, Galaxy and Melco Resorts), it’s part of their whole business plan. If these are the operators the Japanese government wants to bring then it would be in their best interest to make sure it doesn’t overlap with something that is already a heavy burden on these companies.”
With the current timeline providing unreasonable time pressures and a two-year extension providing no added benefit to any new jurisdictions that may want to enter the race, Kokuryo said an extension of six to 12 months made most sense.
“The idea of a two-year extension I would scrap, so realistically I think we are looking at six months or a year for the extension,” he said.
Scott noted, however, that this could change if Macau itself also delayed its re-tendering process – a growing possibility given the impact of COVID-19 and a lack of information from the Macau government on the proposed re-tender process.
“Legislatively, Macau could extend the current concessions for up to another five years,” he said. “If this was to happen it might give Japan some leeway in their process too.”