In an unexpected development, the Wakayama Prefectural Government announced that only one IR operator candidate, the Suncity Group, has applied to participate in its RFP process, a considerable setback for what had been one of the more competitive candidate locations.
According to Wakayama’s notice, only two companies applied to join the RFP process, Suncity and Clairvest Neem Ventures. The latter, however, has made it clear in previous communications with AGB that their intention is to be a consortium investor, not an operator, in the Japanese IR market.
Conspicuously missing from the list of candidate operators was Bloomberry Resorts and Groupe Lucien Barrière, both of which have been highly active in courting the local community for several years. The latter firm had even brought in actor Jean Reno as its campaign ambassador.
The reason for these two firms absence from the RFP is clearly related to the global Covid-19 pandemic.
A representative of Bloomberry confirmed as much to AGB, citing uncertainty in the market and an inability even to meet people during the pandemic.
A representative of Barrière declined to make any comment. However, it is also notable that the firm’s head offices are currently closed for an undetermined period due to the critical situation in France.
Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment has also shown some interest in Wakayama in the past, though they were clearly more committed to Hokkaido before that option disappeared.