Wakayama officials confident about IR bid

Although few independent analysts have rated Wakayama’s chances of winning one of three available IR licenses very highly, prefectural officials are pressing ahead with considerable confidence about their bid.

Tatsunobu Yokoyama, director of the prefecture’s policy planning bureau, explained to Asia Gaming Brief some of the factors that he believes will provide an advantage to Wakayama’s “very powerful” bid.

He notes, for example, that unlike some of the other bids by regional cities, Wakayama is near the major population center of Osaka and top tourist destinations such as Kyoto and Nara. Moreover, the proposed location is particularly close to Kansai International Airport, a primary gateway to the region.

One of the major knocks on Wakayama’s bid is that it lay very close to Osaka’s Yumeshima, universally considered a shoo-in to be granted a major urban IR license. However, Yokoyama notes that inquiries to the central government have so far suggested that regional diversification of IRs will not be used as a factor in selecting locations. Rather, it is the economic impact that will weigh most heavily on the central government’s decisions.

On June 13, Wakayama held the second of its two briefings for companies interested in participating in the RFI process, this time in Tokyo. The level of participation was very similar to event held on June 9 in Wakayama—there were 64 people in attendance representing 47 companies.

Between the two briefing events, a total of about 15 international operators sent representatives.

Looking forward, Yokoyama explained that the feedback gathered through the RFI process will be used in compiling a revised IR plan for Wakayama, which might be published around November. This revised plan will be presented and explained to the Wakayama Prefectural Assembly in December.

Yokoyama is not certain whether or not there will ever be an RFC process. It depends on how quickly the central government moves in establishing its own policies regarding IR licensing.