Hokkaido unlikely to win IR bid: experts

A proposed integrated resort in Rusutsu equipped with a casino is unlikely to see the light of day, said Japanese experts speaking to Macau News Agency (MNA).

Earlier this week, Japanese tourism company Kamori Kanko and developer Niseko Alpine Developments announced a partnership to redevelop its flagship property in Hokkaido into an integrated resort with plans to add a casino.

However, speaking to MNA, Takayoshi Koike, president and CEO of Capital & Innovation Inc. said that it was more likely that Tomakomai, rather than Rusutsu to be the ‘most probable’ choice.

“Hokkaido prefecture has a policy to choose only one [city] as IR candidate from three, Tomakomai city, Kushiro city, Rusutsu village. I do not think that Rusutsu is the one to be selected by Hokkaido prefecture,’ said Takayoshi.

Toru Mihara, the advisor of Japan’s government on the IR Implementation bill told MNA that Hokkaido needed to be designated first, before any further selection could be made on the IR candidates.

“If Hokkaido fails to be designated, those candidatures may become meaningless,” he said.

A Tokyo-based political commentator, Yasuhiro Idei said he believed the Japanese government would most likely choose big cities where a big amount of investment is expected by foreign casino operators, “rather than a small town in Hokkaido.”

Yasuhiro added that the chances of a Japanese-only consortium winning the bid is slim, explaining that one of the purposes of building IRs in Japan was to attract foreign investment to stimulate the economy.

He also observed that the Rusutsu area was a popular area for tourists, who will likely visit the area for skiing, rather than gambling.

Miruhara said while the proposal may be attractive for the local government, it may not be so for the central government.