In the wake of Casinos Austria’s selection as Nagasaki Prefecture’s preferred candidate operator for an integrated resort at Huis Ten Bosch at Sasebo City, explosive details and accusations are emerging which are putting the entire Nagasaki RFP process in question.
IAG has been told by multiple sources familiar with the situation that Casinos Austria has long been Nagasaki’s preferred option, and that the prefecture engaged in numerous machinations behind the scenes to ultimately see Casinos Austria as the only candidate presented to the judges, in a kind of contrived “one horse race”.
Had this transpired, Nagasaki would have mirrored Osaka, which has MGM Resorts as its sole qualified candidate, and Wakayama, which saw a Clairvest-led consortium as the last man standing after Suncity’s eventual withdrawal from the IR race in that prefecture.
Instead, both Oshidori and Niki are said to have resisted pressure from Nagasaki Prefecture to withdraw, refusing to drop out and presenting their proposals to the judges in a final presentation on the morning of 4 August.
Since Nagasaki’s selection of Casinos Austria on 10 August, both alternative candidates have released damning information about the Nagasaki IR selection process. Oshidori have told IAG they were instructed by Nagasaki Prefecture on 26 May and on 2 June to halt all marketing activities, despite there being “no ground under Japanese law or the RFP rules for the Prefecture to ask for this.”
Further, Both Niki and Oshidori have told IAG that Nagasaki Prefecture spoke to them on 12 July and on 27 July, advising the candidates about “negative background checks” and pressuring the candidates to withdraw from the race. However, not only has Nagasaki not released any such information, but the prefecture also went on to give both IR bidders a final score when announcing the results on 10 August, seemingly implying that all three bidders were in fact qualified to participate.
The final scores released by Nagasaki Prefecture
In an objective comparison of the three candidates based on the information available to IAG in late June, IAG concluded that Oshidori was the best option for Nagasaki, primarily due to the decades of IR experience in Las Vegas of its senior management and its operator partner, Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment, a highly experienced IR operator in the US. By contrast, neither Casinos Austria nor Niki has ever operated an integrated resort. Casinos Austria does have extensive experience in small scale casinos, but these are mere fractions of the known IR requirements stipulated in the RFP process.
IAG’s conclusion was seemingly vindicated when Oshidori released architectural renderings of its spectacular “Sails at Omura Bay” concept, published by IAG on Monday. By contrast, Niki has not released any renderings and Casinos Austria released one uninspiring image of its concept along with a press release, which was hastily deleted from its website hours later.
Niki had told IAG that it met with Nagasaki on multiple occasions during July, attempting to resolve Nagasaki’s objections, but that Niki’s representations fell on deaf ears. In recent days, Hiroshige Kobayashi, Chairman of OUEN Japan, a closely related Niki consortium partner, has posted criticism of Nagasaki Prefecture online, stating, “If the selection is fair and impartial, I will give up [the bid for an IR in Nagasaki] … however, this is not the case … Prior to the announcement, Nagasaki Prefecture persistently asked Niki and Parkview [another Niki consortium partner] to drop out. Isn’t this a threat? Why did [Nagasaki Prefecture] threaten to disqualify us in advance [of the decision]? Isn’t this the same as Yakuza?
“Should public organizations representing prefectural residents [behave like this]? I can’t help but wonder if some kind of ‘black force’ is acting behind the scenes. I only hope that the truth will be revealed by the power of the people.”
Both Oshidori and Niki had announced significant community engagement programs to assist the people of Nagasaki, particularly Oshidori which donated JPY 10 million to support Nagasaki children on Children’s Day, 5 May 2021. Oshidori had also publicly outlined long-term plans to share the benefits of a Nagasaki IR with the community, establishing the Kyushu Oshidori Children’s Foundation, which owned approximately 20% of the capital of Oshidori International Holdings Limited, and appointing a locally based Director of CSR.
It has also emerged that a smear campaign against Oshidori was circulating in political and business circles in Nagasaki in the weeks leading up to 4 August. Negative information about Oshidori was sent to IAG in recent weeks by multiple sources clearly trying to damage Oshidori’s reputation.
Speculation as to why Casinos Austria might be the preferred partner of Nagasaki Prefecture is rife.
IAG has put the following questions to Nagasaki Prefecture and will report back to our readers if and when the Prefecture responds:
- There appear to be significant advantages to the Oshidori “Sails at Omura Bay” concept over that of the selected candidate, as well as other significant points in favor of the offerings of the two candidates that were not selected. Why was Casinos Austria chosen over Oshidori or Niki?
- Did Casinos Austria delete the image of their proposal and their press release about winning the IR process because Nagasaki Prefecture instructed them to?
- Why won’t Nagasaki Prefecture release renderings of Casinos Austria and Niki’s concepts to the public so all the people of Nagasaki can view them and form an opinion for themselves?
- Has Nagasaki Prefecture instructed Casinos Austria and Niki to not release their renderings? Is there any reason Casinos Austria and Niki cannot release their renderings?
- Why did Nagasaki Prefecture ask both Oshidori and Niki to withdraw before the presentation in front of the judges? Why did Nagasaki Prefecture want the judges to see only one presentation?
- If it is true that both organizations have some negative information in their background checks, will Nagasaki release that information to give Oshidori and Niki an opportunity to defend themselves?
- With all the questions and discontent currently circling around the Nagasaki process, how can Nagasaki expect the Japanese national government to believe Nagasaki Prefecture’s “preferred operator” is really the best option for the people of Nagasaki?
- Is Nagasaki Prefecture concerned about the possibility of legal action against them by Oshidori, Niki, or both?
- Oshidori’s press release suggested there should be “changes to the developmental and operational rules imposed by the Nagasaki Prefecture”, and that the RFP process should be “conducted in an ethical manner”. Would Nagasaki Prefecture consider re-doing the RFP process?