This week, the Japanese city and Prefecture of Osaka presented a draft policy for the implementation of integrated resorts with casinos, which sets out the criteria for choosing the preferred operator of the project with a separate gambling hall on the artificial island of Yumeshima in Osaka.

City and prefectural officials also announced that they would begin formally accepting proposals in December. The winning bidder, i.e. the operator to be selected to build and operate the integrated resort, will be announced by June 2020.

Japan legalized casino gambling in 2016. The government then passed a bill to introduce an integrated resort in the summer of 2018, which laid out the principles governing the establishment and management of the nascent Japanese casino market.

Japan legalized casino gambling in 2016. The government then passed a bill to introduce integrated resorts in the summer of 2018, which laid out the principles governing the creation and management of the nascent Japanese casino resort market. 

In accordance with Japanese law, casino gambling can only be conducted at gaming facilities located in large integrated resorts. The government will issue licenses for three resorts with casinos in places unknown until now in the country.

Osaka has long been among the leaders in the race for the right to build a casino on its territory. The city was also chosen to host World Expo 2025, and many believe this has further increased its chance of becoming one of the three preferred hosts of the first gambling venue in Japan. The world exhibition will be held on Yumeshima.

According to the recently released draft project implementation policy, in addition to the casino, the future Osaka integrated resort should also be:

  • a hotel for at least 3000 rooms and apartments,
  • international conference hall with a capacity of up to 6000 people, more than 100,000 square meters,
  • exhibition facility and much more.

The winning operator will have to partially cover the cost of infrastructure development that will connect Osaka and Yumeshima, an artificial island in Osaka Bay. This infrastructure includes the extension of the Chūō subway line. The chosen developer and operator will also be required to distribute a portion of their gaming revenue to the development of additional facilities as well as surrounding land and to cooperate with local authorities.

Osaka City and Prefecture officials expressed hope that the resort will be fully operational by the start of the world's fair in the spring of 2025. However, operators have expressed fears that they will not be able to meet this deadline.

We reported at Casinoz that the Japanese government said this week that it would not accept applications for a gambling license from interested operators until January 2021. The three locations of the future casinos will be determined later in the year.

When asked about the timing, Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura said:

For us, there is no point in setting any strict conditions if the operators can not fulfill their plans.

The mayor of Osaka Ichiro Matsui in turn added:

No area has received certification from the government, so no one can officially announce the exact date.

The official continued that interested operators can offer their time range. It also became known that the city and the prefecture are ready to consider the partial opening of the resort, which will include part of the hotels and a gambling hall until World Expo 2025.

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