Things are starting to get serious in the race to add integrated resorts (IR) to Japan’s landscape. After many delays, the country anticipates having its final guidelines in place this year and top contending cities and prefectures are busy preparing their own, local frameworks. The first out of the gate is the Nagasaki prefecture, which has officially launched its Request-For-Proposal (RFP) period today in hopes of finding the perfect casino operator to help it wow local residents and government officials.
The “Kyushu-Nagasaki Specific Complex Tourism Facility Establishment and Operation Project,” which is a fancy name for the Nagasaki IR project, is progressing smoothly and the local government announced the RFP in an official communication today. The guidelines and requirements are outlined in the RFP documentation, as well as through a video available on the government’s website – make sure you have a grasp of the Japanese language to follow it. Candidate operators interested in getting involved will need to move quickly if they want to be considered, though, as the deadline for submissions is January 28. If any questions or concerns arise over the RFP application guidelines, these will only be accepted for another week, and only via email.
As Masahiko Kunihiro of Nagasaki’s IR planning department explains, the RFP guidelines are thorough and comprehensive, so there shouldn’t be any issues. Once all of the applications are received, they will be scrutinized under a microscope and the pile of submissions reduced until the IR review board finds the best candidate or candidate finalists. Provided there are no interruptions, such as another massive global pandemic, Nagasaki plans on making its final selection this summer or by the fall, at the latest.
Once the operator is selected and an agreement reached, the next step will be to create an area improvement plan and to hold public hearings to ensure everyone is on the same page with the process. By next spring, the Nagasaki Prefectural Assembly will have a definitive plan in place, but only after it ensures leaders of Sasebo City, where the IR would most likely be built, are on board. This would be followed by a submission of an area improvement plan to the Japanese national government, which would then need to be certified and returned to Nagasaki. That is expected to happen during the last quarter of 2022.
With all of the legislative and regulatory groundwork laid, it would then be time to move forward with the physical groundwork. Sometime in 2023, all of the paperwork should be wrapped up, the site for the IR should be chosen and the first shovels should be hitting the dirt. Of course, all of this is still contingent upon Japan’s government and its IR timeline, which is still flexible due to the COVID-19 situation and blowback it has received for trying to bring casino gambling to the country.