Japan expected to delay IR application process by at least 9 months

Japan expected to delay IR application process by at least 9 months

Following various hurdles and resultant delays in its ambitious Integrated Resort (IR) project, the central government of Japan is reportedly preparing to push back the IR application window by around a year. Japanese government’s original and ongoing plan is to accept formal applications for one of the three proposed IR licenses starting January 2021 within a window of 7 months. Sources now suggest that the window will likely not open until fall of 2021. Reports suggest that the IR application window will likely be pushed back by at least 9 months.

According to local media reports, the decision to push back the IR application process is part of the government’s effort to attract a successful bid. It may be noted here that casino operators and local authorities have fallen behind their selection processes, prompting many to predict that very few bids will likely be made during the original window of IR application process.

The infamous 500.com scandal and the involvement of former lawmaker Tsukasa Akimoto in the scandal added to confusion around the process. Akimoto was repeatedly taken into custody for his alleged involvement in the scandal. He allegedly took bribes from the operators of 500.com to help them set up a casino in the Land of the Rising Sun.

The combination of adverse economic and business conditions created by the Cobvid-19 pandemic, the aforementioned scandal, and the general stigma built by the notion of gambling has led to weakening of interest in the IR project. Yokohama has already announced plans to put an end to the city’s IR bid, including an effort to force the mayor to step down because of his open support to the casino project. Many of the leading casino operators, including MGM, have also lost interest in the project.

Nagasaki prefecture has also predicted a delay of up to 12 months in submitting its Request for Proposal (RFP) for a license for the IR project. Nagasaki put its RFP process on hold last month as the prefecture wanted to see what came of the resignation of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who stepped down citing health issues.

Even without delays, the fastest an IR operator could win a license and construct a gambling & entertainment complex could be in 2025. Following further delays, the IR project will most probably take much more time to become a reality.