The authorities in Japan’s Wakayama prefecture (pictured) announced on Monday that they would only aim to select by January 2021 – instead of mid-November this year – a private-sector partner for the prefecture’s tilt at having a casino complex or integrated resort (IR).
The prefecture confirmed to GGRAsia in an email that the Covid-19 emergency recently experienced by Japan had been a factor in the decision.
The local government has also pushed back the deadline for submission of request-for-proposal (RFP) materials by would-be private-sector suitors from the original date of August 31, to October 19.
The changes were announced by the prefectural IR Promotion Office. It said there might be further amendments to the schedule, depending on “national trends”.
Japan declared on April 16 a nationwide Covid-19 emergency and only lifted it completely – via Tokyo and Hokkaido – on May 25. Constraints on domestic travel and certain restrictions on private business activities during the emergency had been factors for Wakayama in its latest decision, the prefecture told GGRAsia.
Wakayama expects the national government to decide on which locations can have a casino resort – a maximum of three will be allowed in a first phase of liberalisation – around “autumn to winter” 2021. Should a Wakayama casino resort scheme be approved it should be able to open “in spring 2025”, indicated the website of the IR Promotion Office.
Responding to a GGRAsia enquiry on the topic, the IR Promotion Office said it did not plan to ask the national government to extend the national application period. That is due to be within the first seven months of 2021.
The Wakayama prefectural government announced last month that two respective suitors had qualified for its RFP process. The declared suitors were: Suncity Group Holdings Japan Co Ltd and Clairvest Neem Ventures. The former is a Japan unit linked to privately-held Macau junket investor Suncity Group Ltd. Clairvest Neem Ventures is a unit of Canada-based private-equity management firm Clairvest Group.