Yokohama city will officially launch its RFP by the end of January, according to a report by local station TV Kanagawa.
The media outlet said Thursday it had learned of Yokohama’s RFP plans by interviewing various related parties in recent days following a decision by the city council to reject calls to hold a referendum on its IR ambitions. The ordinance proposal was rejected by a majority made up of the Liberal Democratic Party and the Komeito.
The city is now expected to accelerate its IR procedures and, according to sources close to the matter, begin the process of recruiting an operator by the last week of January.
Five companies – Melco Resorts & Entertainment, Galaxy Entertainment Group, Genting Singapore, Sega Sammy Holdings and SHOTOKU – have previously expressed an interest in a Yokohama IR, although US giant Las Vegas Sands pulled out of Japan last May. Wynn Resorts also closed its Yokohama office last year to focus on its existing US and Macau operations.
Once Yokohama’s RFP is underway, a selection committee will review the business proposals submitted by operators. The final decision rests with Yokohama city.
Osaka prefecture/city, Wakayama prefecture and Nagasaki prefecture have also shown interest in an IR bid but Yokohama has received the strongest opposition. Located in a wide metropolitan area, it is considered to have the greatest potential of the four current locations but opposition was perhaps inevitable considering Japan’s uncertain future in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. This could prove difficult to navigate for Mayor Fumiko Hayashi as she faces the Yokohama mayoral elections on 29 August.