Gaming | Japan: Hokkaido withdraws from integrated resort opportunity

A man walks on a street in Sapporo, the largest city on the northern island of Hokkaido

Hokkaido has become the first Japanese prefecture to pull out of the upcoming integrated resort opportunity after its governor said Friday that differences of opinion on the project were proving an obstacle.
Governor Naomichi Suzuki announced the withdrawal during a plenary session of the Hokkaido prefectural assembly on Friday morning. Suzuki said that the issue had proved divisive among politicians, even within the prefecture’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party. A recent questionnaire answered by Hokkaido residents also showed the project was unpopular with the public.
However, he did not rule out pursuing an integrated resort opportunity in future rounds of market liberalization.
The decision is certain to disappoint casino operators eager to acquire a license in Japan’s largest and northernmost prefecture, where skiing and other winter sports already attract visitors during the winter months.
Among them is Hard Rock International, which in April announced the opening of an office in the city of Tomakomai, considered to be a frontrunner location. U.S. operators Rush Street Japan and Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment had also announced plans to bid for a Hokkaido license if given the chance.
It is not known whether the three operators plan to carry forward their Japan plans to another prefecture.
Japan is expected to become one of the largest gambling hubs in the world once its budding integrated resorts are decided and operational. Analysts say its gross gaming revenue could reach up to $20 billion annually.
The Japanese government has given preliminary approval for what is expected to be three integrated resorts in the first phase of liberalization. Analysts speculate those locations could be Osaka, Yokohama, Nagasaki, Wakayama or even the country’s capital of Tokyo.
Hokkaido’s withdrawal comes after Osaka, widely touted as the most probable location for Japan’s first integrated resort, began calling for request for concept proposal submissions earlier this year. MGM Resorts, Galaxy Entertainment Group and Genting Singapore are all vying for a license in the prefecture of the same name.

Categories Headlines Macau