Local governments in Japan competing to host Country’s first-ever casino resort

  • There are currently three most likely locations for new integrated casino resorts in Japan
  • The island of Yumeshima leading the race despite concerns over tax revenue expenditures

Recently, Japan has finally passed the gambling legislation, allowing land-based casinos in the country after many years of political arguments on the matter.

Yumeshima casino resort artists' impression
Artists’ impression of what an integrated casino resort might look like in Yumeshima. Photo: KANSAI ASSOCIATION OF CORPORATE EXECUTIVES / VIA KYODO

According to many experts, Japanese gambling market has a huge potential, depending on exact details of the legislation which is being refined by the Diet (Japanese parliament). Thus it is no wonder that there are many interested suitors competing to get the necessary approvals to host one of the first gambling complexes in the country.

Three places on the shortlist

As things stand right now, the artificial island of Yumeshima is the leading candidate to become the first place in Japan to host a full-fledged gambling venue. However, Rinku Town (Osaka Prefecture) and Wakayama Marina City (Wakayama Prefecture) are also in the running and more than willing to put up a serious fight in this matter.

Rinku Town has a history on its side. A home to numerous offices and shopping centers, this city was proposed as a potential casino site back in 2002. This was further strengthened by a 2013 resolution, which led to formation of a local committee in charge of looking into the whole casino matter.

Yoshiko Matsushita, one of the Izumisano municipal officials, stated during the public hearing in Osaka that the government shouldn’t disregard efforts by local communities put towards the realization of an integrated casino resort.

One of the reasons why Yumeshima might not end up getting the go-ahead to build a casino is the fact the construction would require large amounts of the tax revenue. These investments would go towards building necessary bridges and roads, the kind of infrastructure that’s already present in Rinku Town.

These concerns were voiced by Takunori Nishimura during one of the nine public hearings and will most likely be included in a bill that will be submitted to the Diet during September.

Wakayama Marina City stating its case

Wakayama Marina City, located some 45 minutes from Kansai airport and in the vicinity of Osaka, also believes it would be a convenient location for a new casino. Wakayama Prefecture officials are convinced they could attract many of foreign visitors arriving via the airport and they also promise the casino construction would get started immediately.

The Prefecture Government also emphasizes that the most recent report focuses on wrong things, like the economic effects and the number of customers. They believe that more emphasis should be placed on quality and revitalization of the region.

The tension between local governments is pretty high right now, as it is clear that the Diet will probably only allow two or three resorts at first, and it is quite plausible they wouldn’t go for two casinos in a vicinity of each other. Yumeshima still maintains its leading position, because it has attracted attention from gambling giants like MGM Resorts, Las Vegas Sands, and Melco Resorts.

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