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Japan’s unique IR bidding process

On August 1, the Experts’ Committee formally handed over its report to the government. This 130-page Japanese-language document is expected to form the basis of the forthcoming IR Implementation Bill. Among other things, it outlines a bidding process which some industry sources have described as being unique in their experience.

As it is envisioned in the report, it will be IR operators and local governments which will take the first steps together. Through their own processes, local governments will select an operator to work with, and together they will submit their combined proposals to the central government. It seems likely that only two or three proposals will be given the green light.

It is now envisioned that the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism will have the primary jurisdiction over Japan’s IRs, selecting the local areas that will be granted licenses and regulating the IRs once they are up and running.

The Casino Management Board (the formal English-language name is pending) will have the key role in licensing and regulating the casino element. This organization has been envisioned as an independent agency under the umbrella of the Cabinet Office.

Some international IR operators have already made complaints about this “two-stage” bidding process in which they must first win approval from a local government and then hope that their local partnership is accepted by the national government agencies. It does not appear, however, that the Japanese authorities are planning to change this aspect of the process.

It also seems doubtful that the Japanese authorities will respond proactively to the operators’ suggestion that each local bid should be considered according to a staggered schedule, allowing everyone to know the outcome of each local government’s bid before moving on to the next one. Present evidence suggests that it will be something of a free-for-all at the first stage, with local governments and IR operators making their own arrangements in their own unique ways, and then coming to the national government, more-or-less simultaneously, in hopes of being licensed.

However, the current proposed bidding model will go through a process of public and parliamentary scrutiny before it is enacted, and so significant changes are still possible.

 

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At a symposium held on Monday, the Wakayama prefectural and city governments made their first substantial attempt to explain directly to the local public their advocacy for the creation of an IR at the Marina City site.

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A former casino cashier at the Yokosuka Naval Base has been sentenced to two years in prison for stealing nearly $100,000 from the Yokosuka casino in 2015.

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Hard Rock International is attempting to boost its attraction to the forthcoming Japanese IR market by drawing attention to its recently launched “Rock Om” program.

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Nagasaki Governor Hodo Nakamura faces an electoral challenge from a candidate affiliated with the Japan Communist Party as he seeks a third term.

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In a piecemeal fashion, Japan is beginning to strengthen its anti-addiction infrastructure in anticipation of the opening of its first IRs in the next decade. The latest step is the establishment of the Hyogo Kobe Addiction Countermeasures Center, which will include a hotline for telephone consultation.

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TransAct Technologies said it has teamed up with AIGC Co., a new consulting agency focused on the potential casino gaming market in Japan, to promote its products.

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Hideo Sawada, the founder of H.I.S., one of Japan’s largest travel agencies, who is also president of Huis Ten Bosch, the theme park in Sasebo city has sketched out a grand vision of an undersea casino in Nagasaki.