Japan’s central government began considerations on Thursday to postpone the application period for local governments aiming for an IR bid for up to one year.
According to local media reports, the application period will be extended from its originally planned window of January to July 2021 as a result of delays brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is expected that a new Basic Policy draft will be announced on Friday 9 October along with the new deadline. It follows that the opening of Japan’s first IRs will now also be delayed, ending hopes that doors could open as early as 2025.
In September 2019, the government announced a Basic Policy draft that included its approach to operator selection.
At the time, the policy proposal stipulated five evaluation criteria items:
- Internationally attractive and competitive quality, size and design, with a clear concept
- Positive economic impact on tourism and the region
- Operating capacity and financial stability of IR operators
- Return of casino revenue to the local municipalities
- Effective measures taken to eliminate adverse effects of casinos, such as crime prevention and problem gambling countermeasures.
It remains to be seen whether the new draft makes any significant changes to these criteria.
The Japanese government had been due to release its finalized Basic Policy in January 2020, then again in July 2020 following an initial delay, but both dates passed without any clarity on its progress.
With the Basic Policy delayed, it had been widely expected that the government would be forced to postpone the application period to allow for further negotiations between local governments and their prospective operator partners.
Candidate locations Yokohama, Osaka, Nagasaki and Wakayama have all announced various delays to their recruitment processes in recent months.