Izumisano still hoping for IR

Izumisano city in Osaka Prefecture has not given up its hopes of hosting an IR, even though rival Yumeshima has been backed by the incumbent governor.

A small delegation of local government officials attended the Japan Gaming Congress earlier this month.

Keisuke Kimura, Izumisano city’s manager for the attraction of an integrated resort, explained to Asia Gaming Brief: “Our thinking is that Izumisano city is, of course, an area of high potential even within Japan, due to its location right next to the airport.”

It may be lesser known today, but Izumisano is no latecomer to the party. The first notion of building a casino at this location was proposed by then-Osaka Governor Fusae Ota in August 2002. Her plan foundered due to the national laws forbidding gambling. Years later, in June 2013, the Izumisano City Council followed up with an official resolution in support of making an IR bid.

The great advantage of the specific location in mind, which is called Rinku Town, is that it lay directly next to Kansai International Airport, the main gateway for air travel into Japan’s second great urban complex, encompassing Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe.

Additionally, a survey conducted by a consultancy in 2013 found that 78 percent of local business people supported the concept of building an IR at Rinku Town.

Nevertheless, even by the time the city council passed its resolution, elements of Osaka’s political and big business community were drifting toward preference for the alternative Yumeshima site, which is much closer to the city center and possesses a much larger land area for development.

It is apparently for these reasons that incumbent Osaka Governor Ichiro Matsui has slammed the door on Izumisano’s IR hopes. Last June, Governor Matsui told a press conference, “At this stage I have no thought of Izumisano city. Osaka will unite behind Yumeshima.” He added, “It is in this place (Yumeshima) that we will build a world-class entertainment area.”

Governor Matsui’s approach is notably different from that of Hokkaido Governor Harumi Takahashi, who is working carefully to build consensus over which municipality within her prefecture will officially make an IR bid.

At any rate, considering the fact that the IR Implementation Bill will put most of the local power over IR bids in the hands of the prefectural government, Governor Matsui’s stance would appear to be decisive.

However, Izumisano city has not given up its campaign, and they continue to participate in IR related events.

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