Osaka postpones RFP schedule for second time due to COVID-19 impact

Osaka prefecture and city announced on Tuesday that the deadline for submission of Request for Proposal (RFP) documentation by operators has been extended again, with the new deadline to be determined once details of the national government’s basic policy have been revealed.

The decision represents the second time this year the RFP process has been delayed, having previously been pushed back by three months from its original date of April to July.

US gaming giant MGM Resorts and local partner ORIX are the only operator consortium to have registered their participation in Osaka’s IR bid following the withdrawal of Galaxy Entertainment Group and Genting Singapore in February.

“The desire of operators to expand to Osaka remains the same, but we have not been able to make progress due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mayor Ichiro Matsui, signaling the deadline would be postponed by about six months.

He stressed that Osaka was not considering changing its conditions with regard to the operator’s contribution of JPY20.2 billion (US$190 million) to connect the artificial island of Yumeshima to Osaka city via an extension to the subway.

Osaka shelved its hopes of opening an IR by 2025 when it announced the first three-month delay to its RFP process in March.

On potentially opening by 2026, Matsui said, “We will consider what must be reviewed upon negotiation with the operator.”

It is widely believed the project will be delayed by two years.

The national government is planning to accept applications from local governments to develop an IR in the first half of 2021, with a maximum of three locations to be selected. However, the basic policy, which was scheduled to be announced in January of this year, is no longer expected until after July.