Osaka puts back casino RFP deadline by a further 6 months

The authorities in Osaka city (pictured) said on Thursday that a key phase in the city’s effort to get a casino resort would be put back by a further six months. Osaka’s mayor, Ichiro Matsui, said at a regular press briefing that the authorities had also amended their timetable for opening such a gaming resort in the metropolis, according to GGRAsia’s correspondent in Japan.

According to Thursday’s announcement, the deadline for Osaka’s request-for-proposal (RFP) phase of its tilt at an integrated resort (IR) – as those schemes are known in Japan – will be put back by about six months. Accordingly, the date for appointing the private-sector partner for Osaka’s IR tilt has been moved back to next year.

In late March, the RFP deadline had been postponed to July, compared to an earlier deadline of April. Osaka city and prefecture are jointly leading the casino-resort bid process.

Mr Matsui also said that the Osaka authorities were now targeting to have such a venue open in the second half of 2027 at the earliest, or in 2028. The original target had been prior to the end of March 2027, the closing point of the country’s 2026-financial year, according to information collated by GGRAsia’s Japan correspondent.

In February, the Osaka authorities said the only qualified applicant for its RFP phase was a consortium consisting of United States-based casino operator MGM Resorts International and Japanese financial services group Orix Corp.

Local governments wishing to host a casino resort will need to apply to the central authorities for the right to have one. A maximum of three resorts will be permitted in a first phase of liberalisation.

Japan declared on April 16 a nationwide Covid-19 emergency and only lifted it completely – via Tokyo and Hokkaido – on May 25. The national government had lifted the state of emergency order in Osaka on May 21.

The ongoing coronavirus-linked pandemic however is making normal business travel to and around Japan; along with events such as public meetings, more complicated to arrange than before.

Other regions in Japan have already announced the postponement of their preparation timetable to host a casino scheme, including Wakayama and Nagasaki.