Japan over the last week: Prefecture IR developments, corporate efforts

Miyagi Prefecture reopens the possibility of IR bid

Earlier this week, Miyagi Governor Yoshihiro Murai has reversed his stance in an IR in Miyagi, and now appears willing to consider an IR bid by his prefecture in the Tohoku region.

“It’s a completely blank slate,” Murai declared this week, “It’s a matter which must be considered with extreme care. We must investigate the possibility before we can make a judgment on whether or not to proceed.”

Giving concreteness to his declaration is the fact that 5 million yen (about US$45,500) has been budgeted by his prefectural government to research the social impact and economic effects of hosting an IR.

Murai’s tone is considerably different from what he had said last June, when he concluded that an IR “could not be very profitable in our prefecture” because “the local population is small and there aren’t enough tourists.”

Corporations gain interest in Yumeshima, transportation a challenge

In Yumeshima, the Kansai Association of Corporate Executives has issued a six-point series of proposals for the anticipated Yumeshima IR.

In its report, the association stressed the financial importance of having the IR open its doors before the start of the World Expo in May 2025, which would require the national government accelerate the process of selecting the three regions to be licensed; to expedite legal processes related to permits, environmental impact assessments, etc.; and to speed the actual construction through effective public-private coordination.

However, even if the IR opens up in time, experts are concerned transportation access will be a key challenge.

While there are plans to extend railways to the island and to expand the surface roads and bridges from four lanes to six lanes, it may not prove adequate to the actual transportation needs at peak times, warns observers. Some relief may be offered by boat links.

Kansai Airports planning an additional $910 million investment ahead of 2025

Yoshiyuki Yamaya, president of Kansai Airports, has revealed that his firm is planning an additional JPY1 billion (US$910 million) in investment to prepare Kansai International Airport for the 2025 World Expo and the anticipated opening of an IR at Yumeshima.

“Looking forward to the 2025 Expo, we would like to strengthen the functions of Kansai International Airport,” Yamaya explained, “While we usually invest about JPY20 billion (about $182 million) annually in the airport, we are contemplating an additional investment of close to JPY1 billion before 2025. If this is carried out effectively, it could result in an annual increase of 10 million passengers.”

Rush Street sponsors charity bingo in Tomakomai

Having opened its local office last December, Rush Street Japan is enhancing its community engagement in Tomakomai, where it hopes to be selected as the operator partner for a Hokkaido IR bid.

This past weekend, Rush Street sponsored a charity bingo game at the 53rd Tomakomai Skate Festival. “Money raised through the charity bingo game will be donated directly towards disaster relief efforts in response to the earthquake that struck the region in September last year,” a company statement said.

Greenberg Traurig seminars provide education on gaming law

Greenberg Traurig, a large international law firm originally founded in Miami in 1967, has been offering invitation-only seminars about gaming law and other matters at its Tokyo offices.

The 11th event of this seminar series, held once every several months, was conducted on January 31 and looked broadly at pending issues for the IR industry rather than drilling down on any specific topic.

The audience of about forty members included businesspeople, journalists, and some local government officials who had come from distant prefectures to attend the event.

Fukuoka cops bust illegal roulette parlor

Fukuoka prefectural police conducted simultaneous raids on two related illegal gambling shops on February 1, including a roulette parlor named “Hope” in the Nakasu entertainment district. A total of ten people were arrested.

As part of the raids, the police seized about JPY27 million (US$245,000) in cash, which they believe was part of the illegal proceeds from the roulette game. Police suspect that these businesses are related to yakuza groups, which remain strongest in northern Kyushu as opposed to other parts of Japan.

The other shop raided, also in Nakasu, was called “Jupiter” and was allegedly running illegal internet gambling services.

Tokoname exhibition hall to open in August with eSports event

The Aichi Prefectural Government has announced that “Aichi Sky Expo,” its new exhibition center on Chubu Centrair International Airport Island in Tokoname city, will open on August 30, and that for the following two days it will host a large-scale eSports tournament.

Construction of the 60,000 square meter Aichi Sky Expo began in September 2017, and it is expected to become a central feature of a future IR should Tokoname city move forward with a bid and win a license.