Suncity, Clairvest the two bidders in Wakayama’s RFP

The authorities in Japan’s Wakayama prefecture announced on Friday that only two companies had submitted application documents for its request-for-proposal (RFP) process to choose a private-sector consortium as partner for its tilt to host a casino resort, or integrated resort (IR) as these schemes are known in that country.

According to the local government, the two participating companies were: Suncity Group Holdings Japan Co Ltd, a Japan unit linked to privately-held Macau junket investor Suncity Group Ltd; and Clairvest Neem Ventures, a unit of Canadian-based private equity management firm Clairvest Group Inc.

The prefectural government is now expected to announce the results of the preliminary evaluation of the bids in mid-May, according to GGRAsia’s Japan correspondent.

A number of potential suitors for Wakayama (pictured) had previously been identified, including French gaming operator Groupe Lucien Barrière; and Philippine casino investor Bloomberry Resorts Corp. The latter two companies had presented their respective concepts for a casino resort in Wakayama at a local government-hosted symposium in August last year. These firms however did not participate in the RFP process, according to our correspondent.

The authorities in Wakayama confirmed to GGRAsia in mid-April that the prefecture would be sticking to the previously-mentioned timeline for its RFP process.

A maximum of three casino resorts will be permitted nationally in a first phase of Japan’s gaming market liberalisation. After selecting a private-sector partner, eligible local governments will then need to apply – during the first seven months of 2021 – to the national government for the right to have such a project.

The Wakayama authorities have scheduled the end of August as the deadline for would-be partners to submit their final business proposals, with mid-November the target date for selecting such a partner. The local government’s designated site is a 23.61-hectare (58.3-acre) plot on an artificial island known as Marina City.

The prefecture aims to apply next year to the national government – in line with the central authorities’ timetable – for the right to host such a project. The central government however has yet to issue the finalised version of its own IR basic policy.

Other regions have already respectively announced the postponement of their preparation timetable regarding effort to host a casino scheme, blaming the delays on the negative impact from the Covid-19 pandemic, and the nationwide state of emergency.