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Osaka IR risks 3yr delay without timely govt action says MP

An MP from the Japan Innovation Party has suggested in the country’s parliament that it could be “a bit difficult for the government to give the approval in autumn or winter 2022,” regarding Osaka’s bid for an integrated resort (IR) with casino.

“Please give the approval by March 2023 at the latest,” added Taku Ikeshita, in comments during a parliamentary question-and-answer session with the country’s political leader, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, on Tuesday.

“The Osaka IR schedule could be delayed by one to three years if the government approval is delayed,” stated Mr Ikeshita, who is a national MP representing Osaka’s 10th district.

“Please show us when the approval will be given and how the Prime Minister recognises the importance of IR,” added the MP. That is according to information collated by GGRAsia’s Japan correspondent.

The idea of an Osaka resort (pictured in an artist’s rendering) being opened by the end of the current decade has previously been mooted by its proponents.

MGM Resorts International, the United-States based parent of MGM Resorts Japan LLC, Osaka’s chosen operating partner for a proposed JPY1.08-trillion (US$7.2 billion at current exchange rates) scheme, had previously said it expected Japan’s national government would give a decision by the autumn, regarding Osaka’s bid.

In Tuesday’s parliamentary session, Mr Kishida didn’t comment specifically on the timetable for decision-making, but noted the national government was “going ahead with the IR procedures properly”.

The premier also stated: “IR is a very important policy to make Japan a tourism-oriented country.”

Nagasaki prefecture also applied to the national government in late April for the right to host a casino complex.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism and an ‘expert panel’ are assessing the Osaka and Nagasaki bids.

According to information collated by GGRAsia’s Japan correspondent, the review committee consists of seven academic professors, each covering a different area of expertise; and with each scholar drawn from a different university. There is also on the body a medical doctor said to have a specialised knowledge of gambling addiction. The committee was set up in July 2021.

Earlier this month, Tetsuo Saito, the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, had declined to be drawn on when the committee would announce decisions on the proposals.

Even if the so-called IR district development plans of the applicants are approved, there is still a number of processes to be completed, even aside from the physical construction of the resorts, which are due to be multi-year tasks.

The Japan Casino Regulatory Commission will need to conduct examinations of casino firms and others to check their suitability to receive a casino licence.

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