On November 29, Hokkaido Governor Naomichi Suzuki announced that the prefecture is backing out of the race for Japan’s first integrated resort (IR). The decision was made due to environmental concerns.
This may come as a temporary setback to foreign casino operators that have set their sights on Hokkaido, including Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment, Rush Street, Clairvest Neem Ventures, and Hard Rock Japan, all of whom had recently opened offices in Tomakomai. The city was one of the top contenders in Hokkaido due to its proximity to the New Chitose Airport, but faced strong opposition from locals.
The IR application process will start in early 2021, with the Japanese government to decide on three locations nationwide to host the first resorts. The total number of resorts will be limited to three for the first seven years after the bid selection is completed, but there is a possibility that the number may be increased in the future.
Currently, Yokohama, Osaka, Wakayama, and Nagasaki are the top four districts vying for government approval. Fitch Ratings estimated that casino operators would need to invest US$10 ~ $15 billion per resort.
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