Wakayama Prefecture pulls out of bid to host casino resort


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Japan legalized casinos in 2018 as part of efforts to boost tourism and regional economies.

That's their promise during Olympic bidding too, see what happen now.

Under Japan's law, up to three casino resorts are allowed. With Wakayama out of the race, only Nagasaki Prefecture, the city of Osaka and Osaka Prefecture -- backed by their assemblies -- are expected to submit formal applications to the central government for the right to host a casino resort in the 2020s.

Two out of three, now central government need to make sure that they keep want to submit their formal application, if Japan still want to have casino.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I like gambling.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

If the price to jump start the economy is to have tourists come here to gamble and hope they get addicted, then we don't need them. Is just more harmful for their pocket and health. Just invest more in other things. Culture, nature, tech, art etc. There is so much to show in Japan. What kind of tourist would come just to gamble money?

7 ( +8 / -1 )

I think it's interesting that this talk of liberalization of gambling regulation comes without much mention of pachinko. Would this entry fee for residents also be applied to pachinko parlours? Is the worry around gambling addiction extended to pachinko parlours? If anyone knows about it, I'd love to hear a more informed opinion on this topic.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Never had a chance against Osaka many international tourists would trod to Wakayama to play in a casino.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Australian casinos have just had a shellacking through Commissions of Enquiry and the like. Lots of money laundering by major crime, inept management and failure to comply with the law ...all the way down to violence involved with loan sharks and just alcohol abuse accompanying loss of income by gambling.

Ask the partners of compulsive gamblers how they feel. Ask the employers of people who fleece the company to gamble.

Not a healthy "industry " by any means

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Wakayama has beautiful landscapes and many remarkable sightseeing spots like Kumano and Koyasan. It has been considered as a traditional and sacred place. I doubt if a casino will fit in there.

Besides, there seems to be a redundancy as its neighbor Osaka is an applicant (whose bid has already been approved at local assembly).

4 ( +4 / -0 )

What kind of tourist would come just to gamble money?

The ones that used to travel to Macao before the CCP cracked the whip on it.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Good riddance and kudos to the assembly of Wakayama to have seen through this nonsense.

All this while Kyodo seems to again be high as a kite...

The rejection by the Wakayama prefectural assembly is the latest sign of lost momentum in the central government's push to construct so-called integrated resorts comprising a large hotel, conference rooms and gambling areas.

What "momentum"? Some local regions (well, mostly only Osaka) were on board from the beginning, the idea and so-called "momentum" was mostly limited to an LDP echo-chamber as the population was overwhelmingly against the idea. Some stooges at the top soldiered on (i.e. Yokohama) and got their marching orders at the last election.

And again...

The Wakayama assembly had to approve the bid before it was sent to the central government by April 28. Wednesday's vote saw 22 members against the plan and 18 in favor, amid concern over whether the prefecture neighboring Osaka can secure the initial investment of about 470 billion yen ($3.7 billion).

...seems like even Osaka is not yet there cash-wise and we may be looking at a very expensive white elephant in the making...

If you look at the history of this project from the other side, the foreign casino-side, things were never really stellar beyond "announcements of interest" in the idea by foreign operators and the wheels started to come off already some time ago. I think this may be a good recap of the trends.

Some recent highlights:

Bally’s Corporation refutes Japanese integrated casino resort rumors (Mar 2022)

MGM Resorts Osaka basic agreement includes escape clause connected to integrated resort (Mar 2022)

Caesars Entertainment Incorporated to hold minority Japanese stake (Feb 2022)

Genting Singapore Limited to fully dissolve Japanese subsidiaries (Dec 2021)

Casino operators were only interested in a very limited set of locations to start with (for example: no Yokohama = no interest) as well as have been scrolling down their investment to minority stakeholding (leaving the Japanese partners more exposed) or resorting more and more to escape clauses. Some also raised concerns at the lack of a legal framework around the gambling industry. (As foreign-based operators, these companies are responsible for their subsidiaries to operate within legal standards / framework which are more stringent that what Japan has to offer which ends up being a legal risk to these companies).

Japan's top government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno said at a press conference Wednesday he would "refrain from commenting on the situation of individual local governments" but stressed that "IRs are an important initiative for Japan to become a developed tourist destination."

Japan does have a lot to offer tourism-wise but the J-gov needs to do some actual homework (i.e. planning) as well as a LOT of footwork in that area, such as declogging the usual suspects (Kyoto, Tokyo, Yokohama) which are generally overrun by tourists and get foreigners (and their money) to visit other regions as well. Let's not even mention that Japan's industry capacity as far as tourism goes have been clobbered these last 2 years, hence the country being even less able to deal with mass tourism when it will kick in again...

For the J-gov to just dishing out wishful figures and writing them into stone for others (local communities / administrations / tourism industry, foreign operators and foreign visitors) to implement / execute is not going to cut it.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I hate casinos, but I like Wakayama, so I don’t want even worse traffic jams. And mafia.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Casinos are a bad place to try to transform your poverty into wealth, and most don't exist for that purpose. They don't actually put up a 'no poor people' sign, but if you aren't rich, most don't want you wasting their time or getting in the way of the rich people. If you want casinos that let riff raff in to lose their shirts, go to the more downmarket ones.

The Japanese IRs were never intended for ordinary people, wandering in off the street in their lunch break, but for the very rich. People who can lose a great deal of cash and walk away happy, because the casino and attached facilities would be an exclusive social club/hotel in which they would do deals and mix with other very wealthy people. That was the plan, anyway. You'd be amazed how many really rich people are out there, and Japan would quite like to have syphoned some of them away from Dubai, Monaco, and Macau (particularly now that Xi is hammering Macau).

Additional money laundering would hardly have been an issue - the Yaks already own that sector and are 'quasi' legal.

The IRs would not have created or increased gambling problems to any great extent. That is the job of pachinko, horse racing, lottery tickets and the illicit gambling that the Yaks run, all of which target ordinary people who can't really afford to gamble and probably shouldn't. That they do, is because it provides hope. Unfortunately, people do need a bit of that to get by.

As there are no tourists any more, all of this is moot. Japan can continue without them being built, and the development companies can save themselves the cash. Kishida will be happy to bury another bit of Abe's legacy.

People who are subject to addictions should recognise their problem and (if they cannot fix it with willpower and therapy), work to shift their addiction to less damaging activities. Gambling is one of the most dangerous addictions of all.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

this is just a deal to increase big money gambling from overseas tourists.

The casinos will be charging something like a 8000yen per person head tax. Certainly enough to discourage your usual pachinko loving oyaji, and denshi tabacco smoking part timer with a gambling addiction.

Japan has to allow more tourists to help the economy at this point.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Shame they will charge 6,000 yen for residents. I guess I'll keep playing poker at the local establishments that offer "prizes" instead of "cash" as winnings.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Wakayama is smart for pulling out of this highly likely boondoggle. With few to no foreign visitors being allowed into Japan, their $$ base is gone. Also with Wakayama so close to Osaka, they'll have a relatively big disadvantage and have their # of gamblers cut at least in half if not more. Wakayama doesn't have a lot of money and if they lose big on this, it could very well bankrupt them.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Smart move! No customer to throw their bets because Japan will be close to foreign tourists until 2030...

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

While it is tempting to celebrate this as a victory of common sense over the headline-grabbing quick-fix type thinking behind the casino plan, I hope the final nail in the coffin here is not an expectation or insider knowledge of how long the border is likely to remain closed to tourists. Keeping foreign tourists out is doing serious damage to a not-insignificant sector of the Japanese economy. That is certainly not something to celebrate.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

It's hard to say that this is a smart move. Casinos themselves can only make up under 5% of the total land space of an IR so the rest needs to be filled with hotels, arenas, concert halls, theatres, etc. This is similar to Marina Bay Sands in Singapore which has become Singapore's most iconic spot for culture, entertainment, sports, etc. The casino money is primarily made from tourists since it's generally cost-prohibitive for locals to enter. In Japan, the pachinko industry already owns that space.

The Yokohama bid was basically shut down by one wealthy person who didn't want an IR to impede his waterfront monopoly. It's ridiculous after having the local governments court these IRs for years just to cave into local bullies or to use them as leverage for their own means.

Who's now going to spend any private money to revitalize places like Wakayama and Tomakomai? These areas are dying and the Japanese government will subsidize them with tax income that doesn't exist.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Yes, of course a possible choice, but I still wonder, with which supreme products or innovations the probably more rural population of that prefecture can otherwise become rich. I have no idea, do you have any? But maybe they really just want to stay poor, working hard their whole life for nothing and prevent themselves from any chances for a little bit more financial freedom. Very disturbing…

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Casinos = crime and corruption. Well done, Wakayama, for saying no.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan has survived nicely without casinos (except pachinko, and no foreign tourist spends money in those smoke-filled joints), so really, who cares? Only the politicians in Japan who get their little brown envelopes. I'd sooner see their greedy little hands cut off.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Gambling addictions, loan sharking, family breakdowns, gangsters, prostitution, etc. ….

In my area? No, thanks.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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