Osaka authorities affirm delay to casino RFP deadline

The Osaka prefecture and city authorities confirmed on Tuesday they had extended the deadline for the request-for-proposal (RFP) process in their tilt at having a casino resort. No specific cut-off date in relation to the refreshed deadline was mentioned by the authorities, according to GGRAsia’s Japan correspondent.

The Osaka authorities stated a new deadline would be set once the national government had issued the final version of its so-called basic policy on integrated resorts. Osaka city and prefecture are jointly leading the casino-resort bid process.

Local governments in Japan 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. The basic policy on integrated resorts is due to set out the criteria by which casino applications will be assessed by the national government.

In February, the Osaka authorities said the only qualified applicant for its RFP phase was a consortium consisting of the Japan unit of United States-based casino operator MGM Resorts International, and Japanese financial services group Orix Corp. Despite being the sole qualified applicant, the consortium still needs to undergo all the remaining stages of the Osaka RFC process until an official decision on the selected private-sector partner is announced by the local authorities.

Japan has in recent months been tackling its own Covid-19 outbreak stemming from the pandemic. Constraints on activity as part of Covid-19 countermeasures – now lifted within local communities – have been affecting some international travel via Japan.

An MGM Resorts Japan LLC representative told GGRAsia earlier this month that the Covid-19 pandemic had “affected business travel and the ability of members of [MGM’s] Las Vegas team to travel to and from Japan to meet and continue discussions with Osaka prefecture/city.”

News of Osaka’s latest delay affirms commentary in early June by Osaka’s mayor, Ichiro Matsui – when a RFP delay was flagged – that it might be the second half of 2027 at the earliest, or in 2028, before a casino resort could open in Osaka.

An earlier target date for opening 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 late March, Osaka’s RFP deadline had been postponed to July, compared to an earlier deadline of April. Osaka has proposed an artificial island (pictured in a file photo) in Osaka Bay as a site for such a project.

Kyodo News reported on Tuesday – citing Toshimitsu Motegi, Japan’s foreign minister – that travel from Japan to Vietnam would “partially resume” this week, as one of the first steps to easing international travel restrictions imposed in response to Covid-19.

According to the news outlet, Japan currently has an entry ban in place for passport holders from more than 100 countries and regions,

The agency also said that day – citing government data – that as of 9.30pm on Monday, an aggregate of 18,638 people had tested positive in Japan for Covid-19.