Governor Onaga’s death shakes up Okinawa prospects

Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga died suddenly on Wednesday due to complications from pancreatic cancer, throwing local politics into turmoil, with potential implications for the IR industry.

Onaga was an opponent to IRs and his election in November 2014 brought a halt to the long-developed notions of building an IR in Japan’s southernmost prefecture.

In contrast to his predecessor Hirokazu, Nakaima viewed reliance on the gambling industry as being below the dignity of the proud Okinawan culture. While elements of the business community nevertheless remained keenly interested in an Okinawa IR, it obviously wasn’t going to occur under Onaga’s watch.

Gubernatorial elections that had been scheduled for November will now be brought forward to sometime next month.

Most likely there will be two major candidates who emerge, one representing the “All-Okinawa” movement that Onaga led, and another (Ginowan Mayor Atsushi Sakima) who will represent the conservative forces backing the Abe administration’s policies for the prefecture.

The main policy battle line will be over the issue of the construction of the new US Marine air base at Henoko beach, but the election’s outcome may deeply impact IR policy as well.

The conventional wisdom suggests that a Sakima victory could lead to the revival of the local government’s interest in hosting an IR, while a victory by the yet-to-be-determined “All-Okinawa” candidate would lead to the maintenance of the late Governor Onaga’s policy line of opposition to casinos.

Among IR operators, 500.com has been the most visible in Okinawa in recent years, with CEO Zhengming Pan and his potential partner, CEO Kevin McGowen of Les Ambassadeurs Club, pitching their casino ideas to Okinawan businessmen and politicians as recently as a couple of weeks ago.

SHARE

Related Articles

500.com says CTO resigns, no plans to appoint successor

China lottery company 500.com said Zhaofu Tian has resigned as Chief Technology Officer due to personal reasons, effective December 31. The company has no plan to appoint a successor at this point.

500 Dot Com reports losses as its major problems remain unsolved

500 Dot Com reported substantial operating losses and at the same time made clear its statements that none of the major challenges it is facing has yet been solved. Net revenues for the first quarter of 2020 were RMB3.1 million (US$0.4 million), compared with RMB11.6 million for the first quarter of 2019, an 88 percent […]

500 Dot Com still waiting to resume crucial Sweden operations

Shenzhen-based online sports lottery service provider has announced that Swedish regulators continue to hold up its eGaming license to the financial detriment to the firm. The Multi Group, which is a Malta-based subsidiary of the company, has been awaiting the renewal of its eGaming license in Sweden, which formerly produced more than 60% of the […]

Zhengming Pan out at 500 Dot Com

A Sunday filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission revealed that former Director and CEO Zhengming Pan had resigned from 500 Dot Com, effective immediately. Tian Zhaofu was listed as Acting CEO of the Shenzhen-based sports lottery provider. The filing stated, “Pan was also a member of the Strategic Planning Committee and Nominating and […]

500 Dot Com reorganizes Japan bribery investigation committee

500 Dot Com issued an announcement last Thursday that one of the four members of its Special Investigation Committee on the Japan bribery allegations has already stepped down and that a law firm has been hired as an advisor to the committee.