Osaka publishes IR timeline; sticks to pre-World Expo opening

On Thursday, the Osaka prefectural and city governments became the first local governments in Japan to publish their own timeline for IR development, holding fast to their objective of opening the IR at Yumeshima in advance of the 2025 World Expo. Osaka did, however, stipulate that opening before the World Expo was a target, but would not be a “duty” for the selected IR operator.

Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura explained, “We aim to open before the World Expo, but amidst so many uncertain factors, it is difficult to impose this as a requirement on the operator.”

Yoshimura insisted, however, that this should not be interpreted as Osaka giving up on a pre-World Expo opening.

The Osaka municipal authorities have reportedly been struggling with the precise language they wished to use regarding this continuing major objective, growing concerned that they might scare off the three major companies that remain in the Osaka IR race—MGM Resorts, Galaxy Entertainment, and Genting Singapore.

Based on the newly-published timeline from the central government, the Osaka authorities believe that they will be licensed and be able to turn over the land to the operators for construction “around autumn 2021.”

As for the timeline leading up to that event, Osaka intends to launch its RFP process next month, December 2019, and then select its operator consortium partner around June 2020. The latter part of 2020 will be dedicated to surveying and preparing the land, as well as gaining the consent of local bodies, including the Osaka Prefectural Assembly and the Osaka City Council.

The IR is to be built on a 49-hectare plot of land on the manmade island of Yumeshima.