Wakayama Governor seeks foreigner-only IR

Wakayama Governor Yoshinobu Nisaka is pushing hard to attract investment in an IR in his city, but says to make it politically palatable it would need to be restricted to foreigners.

Speaking in an interview at the Japan Gaming Congress, Nisaka said the subject of gambling addiction is now a matter for huge debate amongst the regions.

“In Japan, if someone is seen as a gambling addict, everyone will turn against the project,” he said. “It’s a very absolutist view.”

“Personally, I’m not that worried, but considering the position of Wakayama Prefecture, in order to gather everyone’s support for the project to build an IR, it should be a gaming center for foreigners only. Then all the political opposition would melt away.”

Nisaka’s comments may ring alarm bells among international casino investors, who see access to Japan’s large and wealthy population as a key draw.

Global Market Advisors in a recent white paper analysed the potential size of the various regional domestic markets to highlight the potential. For example, an IR built in Yokohama, near Tokyo, could expect to have a local market population of about 38.6 million adults, with the potential to general about $5.6 billion in gross gambling revenue.

The consensus view has been that Japan will allow its locals to gamble, though with some kind of entry fee similar to that imposed in Singapore. Were that position to change, many companies may begin to revise down the amount they are prepared to invest.

Nisaka said he’s strongly in favor of hosting an IR, as a means of attracting wealthy leisure tourists. The location, which would likely be on the oceanfront at Marina City, is close to major tourist airports, as well as the cultural centers of Kobe and Osaka.

He said any project in Wakayama is likely to be much smaller than anything built in Osaka. Investment levels would be lower, but he envisages a high-end luxury style resort.

“Wakayama is a worthy resort location, please consider placing an integrated resort with us,” he said.

Wakayama is on the south coast of Japan on the Honshu Peninsula. It’s home to over 1 million people. It also boasts  the Koyasan World Heritage Site, a 117-temple site founded about 1,200 years ago.

For full interview click herehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xuj7rw0LA2g

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