Wakayama IR bid hits rough waters

Wakayama Mayor Masahiro Obana has suggested the possibility that his city could give up its bid to locate a regional IR in the Marina City district amidst strong local opposition to the plan and unfavorable terms of regulation.

Mayor Obana and the prefecture’s governor, Yoshinobu Nisaka, have until now been among the most aggressive local governments in courting an IR development.

Mayor Obana faced tough questioning about his Marina City IR plans in the Wakayama City Council on Friday. Asked by an opponent what he would do if the central government did not permit a “foreigner-only” casino as his plans call for, Obana responded, “If a Wakayama-style IR is not permitted by the central government, then we would be forced to give up our plans to host an IR.”

Meanwhile, on the very same day, the Wakayama Bar Association issued a statement opposing the establishment of an IR within the prefecture. The statement cited gambling addiction, the corruption of youth, and the possibility of organized crime as the reasons for opposition.

The Wakayama Bar Association also hammered the idea that the casino might be limited to foreigners only. They described the plan as “an extremely unrealistic policy” that would not be profitable.

They also observed, “The very fact that the plan calls for limiting the casino to foreigners is itself a tacit admission that it is something harmful.”