All eyes are focused on Yokohama, the second-largest city in Japan by population, following its first meeting of the newly established Yokohama Innovation IR Council this week, where discussions took place in relation to the proposed casino resort, also known as an Integrated Resort.
On the agenda for discussions during the course of the meeting was operator recruitment and although finer details were not disclosed, outsiders watched on intently to see what corporate operator brand names were being thrown in to the hat as possible contenders for the resorts’ gaming operations and development.
Discussions took place between members of the Yokohama Innovation IR Council, which is chaired by Mayor Fumiko Hayashi and consists of six members. Members include; Governor Yuji Kuroiwa of Kanagawa Prefecture, the Chairman of the Yokohama Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Chairman of the Association of Yokohama City Neighborhood Associations, Chairman of the Prefectural Public Safety Commission, and President of Yokohama City University.
According to reports, additional members may be added to the council at a later date.
Overall, the meeting outlined what would be involved in creating the Integrated Resort and the work required by city officials, which is why operator recruitment is such a crucial part of development plans, particularly as city officials do not want the project portrayed solely as a casino but a ‘a facility of international conference halls and entertainment’.
Undoubtedly, such a large project will impact massively on local economy growth and tourism and ultimately Yokohama finances.
Mayor Fumiko Hayashi made the following comments:
“An IR is not just a casino but a facility of international conference halls and entertainment facilities. We expect it to have an unprecedented impact on tourism and growth of the local economy.”
Governor Yuji Kuroiwa also said:
“We will respect the judgment of the city and would like to cooperate fully. Security measures and addiction measures are important tasks for the prefecture and police, and I would like to work with the city to overcome the problems.”
The council meeting took place just days after a citizens group within the city presented an IR opposition petition consisting of some 200k signatures, that would call for a public referendum on the introduction of the planned casino integrated resorts, with some people saying that if plans proceed in Yokohama it will become a ‘casino city’.
According to reports, casino operator Las Vegas Sands has pulled out of any talks or prospects of it opening one of three integrated resorts in Japan.
The East Asian island country has also suffered another blow as the country is currently on maximum alert following a spike in daily Covid-19 cases. In June, the Coronavirus crisis delayed plans for the basic policy of a proposed integrated resort.
It is not yet clear whether the latest rise will bring further delays or restrictions.