On Thursday, Macau’s Secretary for Economy and Finance assured that the Macau SAR government would be moving forward with its public consultation on the new gaming law within the second half of this year.
Under the revised timeline, the national government is due to begin accepting IR licensing applications from local governments in October 2021. The chances that Yoshihide Suga will no longer be prime minister by that time are growing quickly.
“The casino issue is symbolic of the clear confrontational axis between top-down politics and grassroots politics… We cannot let matters continue as they have under the Abe administration.” So declared Leader of the Opposition Yukio Edano on Wednesday while touring Yamashita Pier, the proposed site for Yokohama’s major urban IR.
The emergence of Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga as the all-but-certain next prime minister of Japan is good news for Japan’s pro-IR community. However, even with a solid friend in the Kantei, there’s plenty of reason to believe that the government is about to hit the brakes.
Japan has seen numerous twists and turns in its bid to establish an integrated resort industry, though perhaps one of the most unwelcome was the arrest of a deputy minister at the centre of a money-for-favours scandal surrounding IR development plans for Okinawa and Hokkaido.
With Tokyo gubernatorial elections now scheduled for July 5 of next year, political observers are predicting that Governor Yuriko Koike will not clarify her stance on an IR bid for at least the next nine months or so.
Ho Iat Seng, the main contender in the elections to pick Macau’s chief executive, formally declared his candidacy on Tuesday, holding a press conference in which he commented on the importance of the healthy development of the gaming industry.
The Abe government is pulling back from the planned July 1 establishment of the Casino Management Board and the issuance of more specific IR bidding regulations out of concern that Japanese public opinion remains hostile to the legalization of casino gambling.
As 2018 comes to a close, remarkably few local municipalities are looking like seriously prepared candidates for IR bids, with really only two—Osaka and Wakayama—appearing to have fully lined up their local political and business establishments behind such a bid.
Upcoming elections in South Australia and Tasmania are providing another opportunity for anti-gambling crusaders to target the industry, prompting concern a hostile operating environment will restrict growth.